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Producing the all-round athlete - Early specialisation or multi-sport diversification? | Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) | ConnectedCoaches

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Home » Groups » Coaching Children (Ages 5-12) » blogs » Fit Jersey » Producing the all-round athlete - Early specialisation or multi-sport diversification?
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Amanda Hoynes and Ben Storey like this.
 

Comments (5)

  
MattBlandford

For me, early diversification is essential to making life long athletes and sports lovers. Developing different motor skills can improve performance across other sports too, so in my opinion should be encouraged. One thing I can't abide is these sports which have a "2 week break" from it then straight back into "pre-season". Coaches and teachers should encourage players to play as many sports as possible. Also early specialisation has been linked to dropping out of sport as a teenager/before adulthood, if someone genuinely loves it, fine, but you should never force someone to train one sport all year round.

15/03/17
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 · Amanda Hoynes and Fit Jersey like this.
 
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A.McGinnigle
Fit Jersey said:

Thanks for this Matt - I must have mentioned it on my other blog but Multi-sport athletes tend to be more rounded socially as they have to adapt to different subcultures and mix with groups from different backgrounds. However interestingly, the early-specialisers formed stronger bonds with their smaller groups of friends

04/04/17
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AndyP

I'm certainly of the view that a diverse mix of sports, coaches well, is the preferred option. That said I've found it incredibly frustrating when either (a) those other sports don't share that view or (b) the quality of coaching in those other sports is detrimental.

In respect of (a) I had great dofficulty with one lad, a sprinter, who struggled to do any particularly effective sprint sessions because his school bullied him into training for, or playing rugby matches 5 times a week. Diversification only works if all the sports are on board with that approach.

In respect of (b) I lost count of the number of times I helped one athlete rehab a knee injury, get her back into several weeks of consistent pain free running, before going back to football training at the local academy and he thrown straight back into full pace matcg scenarios and have the injury flare up again.

I think we also need to be careful what we mean by diversification - I coach track and field athletes, and have found a multi event approach covering hurdles, sprints, middle distance running, jumps and throws with an underlying focus on fundamental movement skills gives a far more rounded experience than someone doing, for example, just football and rugby.

15/03/17
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 · Amanda Hoynes and Fit Jersey like this.
 
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A.McGinnigle
Fit Jersey said:

Thanks for this Andy. I completely agree that a unified, organised approach is needed for multi-sports and most regions seem to lack the collaboration between schools, clubs and regional governing bodies to allow it to happen effectively.

Injury management is not often a specialist subject of most amateur coaches and knowledge of identifying common risk factors for certain injuries within certain sports should be a staple of the NGB coaching qualifications e.g. Football (soccer) hamstring and adductor weakness.

I completely agree that fundamentals are the key and I know for a fact, my region is having a big push on physical literacy assessment and coaching in schools - apologies if the blog's examples seem reductive!

04/04/17
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mick.driscoll
Mick Driscoll said:

Brilliant piece.

04/04/17
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 · Fit Jersey likes this.
 
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A.McGinnigle
Fit Jersey said:

Thanks Mick, much appreciated.

04/04/17
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Grutzbo
Jim Hardy said:

I need to make sure I keep my eye on what problem I am trying to solve. Most kids do not have the tools to compete at the highest level. Parents hear two messages. One is that the child needs to play multiple sports. The other is that they need to play each sport year round. Add together we get kids over-training and parents overspending in belief that there is nothing but air and 10k hours between them and the big show. And the coaching industry encourages it. How would things change if our goal was to see young players still playing rec ball as parents?

17/04/17
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A.McGinnigle
Fit Jersey said:

Sorry for the delay Jim. Completely agree that there are a lot of reductive, mixed messages out there. Simple ways to check things are working are:

-are my players/children happy?
-are they injury free and have high energy levels?
-are they getting more confident? (I thought about putting better/more skilful here but thought that confidence was more indicative of a well-rounded athlete)

If the answer is no to any of those then something needs to be addressed.

23/08/17
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Laddo
Steve Ladd said:

Enjoyed the article and wish more people could read it. I've always advocated the importance of multi sports and athletes I've coached at schools have usually got involved in wide variety of different teams/sports because of the physical benefits but also because it's fun - some often realise they're better at a different sport! I wish I personally still had the time to do all the different sports I enjoy, so let's provide the opportunities for young people when they can. My own children do a wide range of sports and the physical benefits are clear. They are both slim and light but the conditioning they've developed through gymnastics and swimming has helped them cope with the demands of the introduction of contact in rugby - there are many other examples I could provide that only confirm the importance of multi sports. I also agree with Matt's comment about sports having a 2 week break and then back to pre-season - this is ridiculous and football seems to be one of the worst culprits. Our rugby season runs from September to April which gives a healthy 4 months to try something else on a Sunday morning (including a lie in!?). It also allows them a break so when they return they are excited about playing rugby again. As children grow up they will naturally decide what sports they would like to continue or specialise in, but at least with a multi sports approach they have a choice, not to mention the physical, social and mental benefits of all those different activities they've enjoyed.

25/08/17
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