Early specialization

Early specialization

Unfortunately, there is an ever-increasing impact of the system that came from USA, where only one type of ball is given to children from early ages and specialize in only one particular sport, and this phenomenon is increasingly common. Pre-ambitious parents who have failed to achieve a certain sport impose the same on their children, so that they can cure their failure through them. And then to make sure that their child has all the necessary conditions and that he is on the right path to achieving the goal (the question is whose goal) they pay for individual trainings with which children begin with 10,11,12 years, and the fundamental stages of training are often ignored by coaches, who focus on winning rather than gaining basic skills and physical preparation. Here we come to the early specialization.

Too early sports specialization is based on the wrongly interpreted fact that it takes 10000 hours (3h x 365d x 10g) of devoted exercise to achieve mastery in sports. Young athletes must take great care of the principle of gradualness, gradually increasing the load, both the volume and the intensity. Maximali results are achieved later in the training stage that is most favorable for this.

Large studies have been made on this problem that lasted for 14 years. A large group of children aged 9-12 years was divided into two groups:

– The first group was in the early specialization program (USA system)

-Other has worked according to the general program, in which children participated in various sports and activities and all physical training in addition to the specific development of skills and abilities.

The results showed the following:

Canadian Istvan Balyi and his associates made a long-term development program for athletes Long-Term Athlete Development – LTAD. It is an idea that has been developed on the basis of a scientific research consensus using the knowledge of trainers around the world and it defines a complex developmental path from a child to an adult in a simple and flexible way.

  • Phase 1: Action Start (0-6 years)

Goal: Learning basic movements and connecting them to the game

  • Phase 2: FUNdamental (6-9 years) – the fundamental phase

Goal: To learn all natural forms of movement for the purpose of later development of motor skills (techniques)

  • Phase 3: Learning to Train (9-12 yrs)

Goak:Learning basic sports techniques, including the main sport (the skills learned in the previous period should be put into the context of sports)

  • Phase 4: Train to Train (12-16 yrs)

Goal: Developing physical qualities, channeling an athlete into one sport discipline

  • Phase 5: Training to Compete (16-18 years)

Goal: Further development of physical preparation with the improvement of specific motoring and demand of sports

  • Phase 6: Training to Win (18+ year)

Goal: Maximization of physical preparation and sport-specific TE / TA skills

Recent research and evidence from practice indicate that early selection:

  • it does not allow better performance even the opposite – the greater the probability of an athlete to reach a top level if from 11 to 15 years he participates in 3 sports
  • Reduced general flexibility – Decreased abilities in later life
  • An increased chance of overtraining and saturation leading to a withdrawal from sports

So the earlier specialization will very likely bring some results, but in the earlier period and at a lower level, it does not guarantee the achievement of top-level sports results at senior level. Most senior seniors have dealt with at least one sport next to the main.

Therefore, parents, do not orient your child and focus only on one sport. Lead them to try as many sports as they are young, later they will decide for themselves what they like most. Who knows, maybe your child is talented and gifted for handball, swimming, some martial arts or athletics, and you do not even know it




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