A new approach to supporting young athletes

Today’s young athletes face a host of pressures. Scott Charland, manager, Parkview Sports Medicine Performance, shares his thoughts on one of these issues: the early specialization model.

A lot of children experience failed attempts to participate in organized sports, as a result of too much of an emphasis on competition and winning, with little attention on developing proper athleticism (agility, balance, coordination, flexibility, metabolic training, power, reaction time, speed, strength and strength endurance). This leads to increased dropout rates, early burnout, overemphasis on sport-specific preparation and a lack of basic movement skill development.

Early sport specialization can also lead to increased injury incidences and rates. These musculoskeletal injury factors are the result of overall low strength levels, incorrect landing mechanics, incorrect deceleration techniques, ligament laxity, muscle tightness and over-reliance on a particular limb.

To combat these disturbing trends, many youth sports organizations have started developing a Long Term Athlete Development model (LTAD) for their member clubs. The goal of shifting from an early specialization model to a LTAD model is to increase participation, aid in performance, and enhance enjoyment in the sport. USA Hockey, USA Baseball and USA Lacrosse are just a few of the organizations now adopting this model, which is already being implemented in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Asia.

Scientific research concludes that it takes 8 – 12 years of training for a talented athlete to reach elite levels. A long-term commitment to physical literacy, proper training to improve athleticism, and sport skill development is vital to produce optimal athletic potential. Proper training and athletic development require time. Unfortunately, some coaches and parents overemphasize competition, while others ignore proper movement skills and development to improve athleticism. 

A well-planned and balanced schedule of training, practice, competition and recovery will enhance optimum development throughout the child’s athletic career.  If your child participates in a sport club that does not emphasize improving athleticism or movement skill, Parkview Sports Medicine now offers sports performance training.  Call (260) 266-4005 for more information.

 

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