I continue to preach having kids to be multi-sport athletes, but ultimately I believe most kids will end up picking just one sport to play. At what age that happens will vary. Also, multi-sports nowadays means playing two different travel sports in the same season. Not quite what I was hoping for.
Anyways, what happens when your kid finally decides to specialize in that one sport?
You better be all in about developing your athlete. You’re putting all your eggs in one basket here.
I don’t think that means they have to be working on the sport 24/7/365. But, I do believe it should be a continual developing of the athleticism now that you have committed to doing one movement pattern all the time.
Here are a few suggestions to help your athlete have success in the one sport they will be playing:
- Put off specializing until at least 13 or 14. The years prior to 13 are very important for the athlete to develop new motor patterns. The body is like the brain learning a language. It is just a sponge learning these new movements which help to continue and expand the athleticism of the athlete. The more movements you can expose the body to, the better it will respond to developing the right way and without imbalances. So play as many sports possible for as long as you can.
- Just because you specialize and will be practicing a lot, don’t neglect working on your skills on your own time. Getting on that AAU team might be good competition to play against, but you need to continue to work on your tight handles and shot. Doesn’t matter what type of competition you compete against, or new strategies you learn, if you can’t master the basic fundamentals of the game.
- Now that you will have this extra time since you are only playing one sport, take advantage of it. Get on a strength training program. Get strong. I don’t believe I have to explain why that will help you out.
- You also need to get into a good performance enhancement program. Yes, it will help your speed and quickness, but it will help address any athletic deficiencies you might have. This program should be the substitute for the sports you don’t play. Meaning, it should emphasize movement patterns you don’t typically do that will keep your athleticism tested and eventually help you be a better athlete for your sport. Addressing those deficiencies will ideally try to eliminate strength and flexibility imbalances that could lead to injuries.
- Try not to let all your time playing the sport be organized. Meaning, if you have the opportunity to play pickup for your sport do it. I feel you will get much more out of that, than constant instruction which limits your instinctive development in my opinion.
If you are going to specialize, then you have to give your athlete a chance to succeed. They have to be dialed in. Trust me, don’t think that this is every minute of the day. These kids find time to relax and have downtime. More so then you think.
Get them to organize and get some of these ideas into their schedule and you shouldn’t have any worries about them not making the team in their only sport left to play.