To Specialize or Not To Specialize Essay

Submitted By lauraegraham22
Words: 901
Pages: 4

To Specialize or Not To Specialize

Specializing in a certain sport at a young age is a discussion that has many different opinions. Some say that specializing will result in more developed sport specific skills by the time they reach high school age, while others say that playing multiple sports will allow the development of a better all around athlete. As the discussion continues, most people can come to an agreement that specializing has both pros and cons. Some of the pros could be more training and competition experiences, more proficient at a specific motor skill, more comfort and confidence while playing and early success such as attaining professional status and recognition for scholarships. A few cons of specializing are disrupt in social development, higher risk of overuse injuries, higher possibility of adult inactivity, can cause muscle imbalances and tightness, and risk of burnout from stress and lack of enjoyment. Burn out and overuse injuries can develop in athletes who specialize in one sport at a young age. High-risk overuse injuries can result in a significant loss of time from sport and/or threaten future participation. These injuries include stress fractures, physeal stress injuries, osteochondritis dissecans, apophyseal injuries and effort thrombosis. Rest can resolve some of these injuries but a doctor should evaluate any overuse injury to make sure there are no complications. Burn out or cease of participation in a specific sport can be caused by the constant pressure to win and perform, leading to mental and physical exhaustion and stress. Also, when athlete experiences feelings of entrapment, they feel as though all of the energy and time that they have invested into the sport isn’t resulting in any rewards. Therefore the benefits are now being outweighed by the costs and the athlete will drop out of their sport. There are many physical and behavioral symptoms that parents can look for in their child to help identify athlete burn out, to prevent it before it reaches the point of dropout. The physical symptoms are tension, fatigue, irritability, decreased energy level, problems sleeping, increased occurrence of illness, inconsistent performance, and exhaustion. The behavioral signs are depression, feeling helplessness, anger, feelings of disappointment, and feeling that one’s contribution to the team is insignificant. If you notice these symptoms occurring in your child, there are some strategies that can help prevent athlete burnout. These include taking time off from the sport or cutting back on participation time, teach relaxation and stress management techniques, and provide positive social support by encouraging positive thoughts about their role on the team. When athletes are training crazy amount of hours on their sport it could affect their academics, friends, and family. With only so many hours in a day, an athlete who spends 6 hours at school, and then another 3-4 hours training a night, may find that time management becomes very difficult. Not having enough time to study, write essays, finish projects, do daily homework, can all cause excessive amounts of stress, not accounting for the amount of in class lessons and labs missed. Also, juggling school and training also affects the amount of time the athlete gets to spend with family and friends. Although sports can create friendships within the team or club, the athlete may not have the time to actually have fun outside of sports. This can cause the athlete to feel lonely, not accepted by peers at school or even disrupt in social development. Also,