Is Focusing on a Single Sport Early Bad for Your Child's Health?
7 minute read
We all want the best for our kids and encourage them to pursue their passions and interests. Unfortunately, sometimes we may push a little too hard. Your kid may show a particular skill set, which causes you to push them towards one sport, for example, and this may not be the best approach for their future.
Studies have found that specializing in one sport only at an early age is not guaranteed to bring success. In fact, a lack of diversity in sports can cause a lot of trouble.
When Specializing Can Be a Bad Thing
The idea behind pushing for one sport is usually to maximize the potential for success in the professional leagues. However, studies have found that when looking at the histories of professional sports superstars, they were playing multiple sports in their youth.
This helps to dispel the common misconception that you need to specialize in one arena to be successful. Your children’s chances of success and possible college scholarships are enhanced when their activities are varied.
Focusing solely on one sport at a young age can cause children to burn out before they even get to college level. There are also physical risks tied to specializing in a sport too early on.
Only playing one sport at this important developmental age means only certain muscles are getting worked. To promote optimal development, your child needs a variety of activities, working all muscles.
The study of professional athletes found that their age of specialization was around fourteen years old. One sport was always favorite and more popular, but at least two or three were played before middle and high school years.
Most professionals report that they learned a lot from other sports that helped make them better in their specialized field.
Benefits of Sports for Kids
There is much your child can gain by staying involved in team sports during their youth. Because there is much that each sport can offer, the more they do the better. In their youth, it is more about having fun and staying active, so let them enjoy what they play. There is time to focus and specialize later and reaping the multiple benefits from sports will last a lifetime.
The emotional, social, and physical health of your child will improve when they stay active during the early developmental years.
Stronger heart: Because your heart is a muscle, it will benefit from a physical activity just like the other muscles do. Regularly partaking in sports helps a young heart to develop stronger which will lead to more efficient functioning.
A healthy and strong heart will ward off heart disease, which is important because kids can be affected by this condition too.
Improved circulation: Staying active helps to keep the bloodstream clear of cholesterol and harmful triglycerides. The result is increased flexibility of the blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, and lowered risk for cardiovascular problems.
Regulates blood pressure: Regular exercise alleviates stress, which helps to keep blood pressure levels down. We may not think that kids feel stress, but they do and playing a sport gives them regular opportunities to blow off steam.
With blood pressure maintained at healthy levels, the risk of heart disease will decrease.
Stronger lungs: Playing sports causes you to breathe faster, and your lungs need to work harder. Lung capacity eventually increases, as does the efficiency with which air is moved in and out of the body.
More oxygen is drawn in and more waste gases are expelled. As your child gets older, stronger and more efficient lungs protect against the decline in oxygen intake that comes with aging.
Weight control: A sedentary lifestyle typically causes more calories to be taken in than are needed. Unused calories turn into fat, which is stored throughout the body. Sadly, childhood obesity is a real problem, and this can be easily prevented with regular physical activity.
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Participating in team sports keeps kids active, so they burn the calories they consume. Nothing is left to become fat and gaining weight will not be an issue.
Reduces blood sugar: Exercise prevents blood sugar from accumulating in the same way as it prevents fat from accumulating. Muscles need to take up more blood sugar from the bloodstream for energy, so nothing is left.
Reducing the amount of blood sugar in the bloodstream is the best way to protect against diabetes. In addition to this, exercise prevents obesity, which is strongly linked to the development of diabetes in children.
Improved energy: Regular exercise promotes a more energetic feeling, which prompts children to continue being active. It may seem that physical activity would drain them, but the opposite occurs.
Eventually, they will get worn out, but they will wake the next day full of energy again.
Stronger bones: Muscles grow stronger with exercise and so do bones. Playing sports helps to increase bone density and protect bones from damage as well as conditions like osteoporosis.
While this condition is typically associated with older adults, building strong bones as a child can give better protection from this disease as they get older.
Prevent cancer: Studies have found that in general, people who exercise regularly have less risk for certain cancers. Colon, breast, prostate, and uterine cancers are some of the ones that exercise can protect you from.
Improved confidence: Approval, being part of a team, and praise all help to boost self-esteem. Sports give children the chance to develop social and emotional bonds that can help their relationships later in life.
The confidence that can be developed from being a part of a team will have long-lasting benefits on mental health and stability as your child grows. Even the pain of loss helps build character.
The Bottom Line
Encouraging participation in sports is great for children. The more they do, the more opportunities they have, and the diversification are enriching. They also get the best in terms of activity and development when they are playing in multiple fields.
More important than scholarships and professional sports, physical activity is essential for development, and kids need to be encouraged to try it all.