Reflection on Sampling vs. Specialization

Specialization with pre-pubescent kids is something I am firmly against. Everything I have learned about coaching in my life so far goes against having a kid specialize before he/she knows what their fully matured body will be like. While this example is unlikely, let’s say a boy specialized in gymnastics, but ends up being 6’6″ with a cannon for an arm? That kid probably would have been better off being a quarterback when he was older. I am of the belief that variety is the spice of life and I am a big believer in cross-training, as I think that skills, such as boxing out in basketball, can be very applicable and relevant in a sport like football. I do not see the merits at all for early specialization, I understand that with early specialization comes a greater chance of turning professional in a sport, but I cannot help but think that parents are just vicariously living through their children in these cases. Though I do think that every kid who wants to play a sport in college should specialize once they have went through puberty. I also think that sampling as a child also reduces the risk of the child burning-out before becoming a teenager and also reduces the risk of overuse injury. As a firm believer that children should make decisions for themselves, early specialization would be OK if the child wanted to focus on one sport and his/her parents took them to the doctor to get their skeletal age to better determine the adult size of the child. Though as I said earlier, under normal circumstances I would consider myself pro-sampling and anti-specialization.

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