Ideally, sports specialization ought to be part of a comprehensive talent, health and social development and management. Children are encouraged to participate in sports for their psychomotor enhancement and sporting talent discovery. However, sports have become highly commercialized and interests are now based more on reward than passion.
Parents should encourage their children to participate in different activities and enroll them in programmes that discover young talents in sports; whether through school or the community. Parents should also show good example and be role models for their children by taking time out for sport activities, in general; in order for them to find every sport an interesting exercise.
The emphasis on specialization makes sense if sports excellence is the goal. Ericcson has averred that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice are necessary to achieve expert performance. Injuries can occur during such practice, but not all can be attributed to overuse. Where overuse (eg, pitching) is established as a source of injury, task performance should be monitored and limited. Return on investment should also be considered, few children will see hours of practice rewarded with lucrative professional contracts in the years that follow. .
I recently read several research pieces that show specialization at a young age causes incorrect muscle development and overuse injuries. It is much healthier to be a generalist when young and specialize when older. We must show this research to parents and make sure they understand it for them to make the change.