During the summer of 2014, I had the privilege of assistant coaching for the prep club track team that I once ran for, which was being led by my high school coach. Considering the age of the athletes we were working with, six to 12, the head coach did a tremendous job of creating the perfect balance between doing everything possible to prepare the athletes for potential collegiate careers in the long run, while at the same time keeping in perspective the fact that we were still working with children. Unfortunately, not all coaches and parents are able to achieve this same middle ground of understanding.
Spending the summer attempting to emulate my coach’s charismatic nature in the way he guided his athletes to the best of their potential at various track meets and practices, I had the distasteful experience of witnessing countless other coaches and parents howling at their children about trivial matters such as attacking a curve incorrectly or failing to execute a race strategy properly, you know, because things like that matter when you’re six years old. In addition to the obvious psychological damage that took place in those instances, another huge problem was prevalent — early specialization.
As a parent, I’m sure witnessing your child excel rapidly and be much better than their peers on account of their early specificity is a great feeling, but that doesn’t exclude them from the possible dangers of burnout in the long run. Many studies have been conducted to determine the effects of early specialization on athletes, and most of them have turned out negative. The chart summarizes some of the most […]
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