Youth sports, once a bastion of innocence and fun, has become more about winning and out doing other sports than enjoyment and developing a love for sport and movement. Athlete specialisation occurs at progressively earlier ages and the old child-friendly diet of multiple sports with discrete seasons and off-seasons is dying or already dead.
If a player shows any kind of talent when their calendar quickly fills up with multiple age groups and multiple levels, this leaves little time for other sports or down time. Every session they are involved in is structured with less room for creativity and experimentation.
Here’s the cold hard truth: Athletes specialise too early in sport and are not fed a steady enough diet of movement variability. It has lead to ever increasing youth injury rates and burnout from sport.
Add to this the fact that kids outside of there sport spend more and more time in sitting in school and after school which leads to extremes or activity levels. For much of their time they are sedentary and the suddenly they are thrust into dynamic often repetitive movement and then back to sedentary again. So, not only do they have poor variety in there sports but the varied movement given to them in playing, climbing, wrestle etc when out playing with friends seems to be a thing of the past also.
A solution to this seems to be two fold. In our kids younger years it is essential that they are exposed to as much variety as possible in order to get as much varied movements as possible.
The other important thing we must to is have our kids assessed annually in order to track any dysfunction at an early age and catch it before they turn into chronic injuries.