Why do we want to specialise our young kids in a sport so early?

Just a quick post:

Along with my business who is also a sport scientist, we designed a multi sport skills program for preschool children in 2006. The program is called Hippity Hop and is run locally on tennis courts. If it was good for kids to specialise as preschooler’s we could have designed a tennis specific program, especially with all his Tennis and coaching credentials but the research is out there and more and more is becoming available to show that early specialisation does not benefit the preschool / young child one bit, and if anything can have a detrimental effect.

With our background in sport science and working with kids in an active setting, we have a program that develops social, perceptual and physical skills. Because the program concentrates on learning skills and not individual sports, the transfer of skills between sports is far better. Having been running for 8 years, we have hundreds of kids now 11 and 12 who are successfully playing many different sports.

It is hard to advise parents, as it looks as if you are just trying to push Hippity Hop, but really for the good of your child, multi skills programs are the best for your preschool kids and the research actually suggests that kids should not begin to specialise until they are 12 years of age.

An assistant professor from Indianappolis has put it in a nutshell and put it very well, why multi skills are so important. Just note this is about primary aged kids, so it shows how crucial multi skilling is for preschooler’s.

“Participating in a variety of sports will help a child develop other athletic skills that they would not develop if they specialised in one sport too early. Athletic skills such as speed, balance, mental focus, jumping and reacting are all stressed differently in different sports. These skills will later transfer to the child’s primary activity, so everything a child does to become a better all- round athlete will make the child a better soccer player, for instance.” (Jennifer VanSickle, assistant professor of Sport Management, University of Indianapolis).

I will write a more detailed post on this citing all the references, but have seen so much about this subject recently, I felt compelled to make a quick comment

Sue Cutbill

Hippity Hop


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