Sport specialization the brief, but telling conclusion…
The study’s findings are relatively convincing. The elite group tended to devote far less time at earlier ages in sport-specific training.
Additionally, early Sport Specialization was found to be a likely predictor of classification as a near-elite athlete.
In other words, while the early sport specialization may have been beneficial to overall performance, the athletes who tended to excel the most had instead focused on multilateral athletic development early in their growth and avoided the high technical skill, intensity, and specificity of unique sport preparation until such foundational skills were well established.
I found this archived article and wanted desperately to bring it to your attention.
There is SO MUCH MORE to youth sports training than just selecting some exercises and counting reps… ‘Part 1’:
Demonstrating good technique from a sporting perspective involves applying optimal movement ability in order to accomplish or solve a particular task effectively. A young athlete, for instance, who demonstrates sound technical ability while running is getting from point A to point B in an effective manner.
Technical ability in a sport is typically the underlying measure for potential success. Good athletes are more often than not technically sound athletes. This reality, however, does not start and stop with respect to sport specific skills; this fact extends itself into the realm of general athletic development and the promotion or advancement of general movement abilities. The crux of athletic development as a science resides in the notion that before we create a sporting technician or specialist, we must first build the athlete by instilling competency in both basic and advanced movement abilities; this would include not only multi-directional movement skill but also the technical requirements of basic to advanced strength and power training exercises.
The technical abilities demonstrated in a given sport can be categorized based on the rules or requirements of that sport –
Most professional Trainers, be them Fitness Gurus or Sports Performance Experts, may not ever take the time to realize that much of what we hold true and dear in our pursuits of enhancing both the health and ability of young athletes, also translates to the world of business and life as well.
Perhaps this lack of ‘connecting-the-dots’ between the two is more than just something that has been overlooked – it’s because the values on which we pride our work with young athletes is far too limited in scope to be accurate.
Let me explain that.
Our industry holds strong to the notion that short-term, ‘work ’em hard’ training situations that involve high intensity on everything and a slow, methodical infusion of skill on nothing, is what best serves young clients in their need to get better (faster, stronger etc) now.
But how often does this gun-slinging approach to life or business prove successful? And can we take lessons from that as it relates to developing young athletes in Youth Sports Training?
How many times do we become handicapped by vein, unplanned and quick attempts to overhaul our businesses or restructure our lives in short periods of time?
Think about it. How many New Year’s Eve goals for the impending year have you set (be them business or life alterations) only to find yourself exactly where you were in November come March?
A coach or trainer must possess a firm grasp of applied pedagogical science and have the ability to convert that knowledge into its practical art form.
Gone are the days of the ‘one size fits all’ approach to working with athletes. You cannot assume nor expect a given group of athletes, with their varying personalities and temperaments, to relate and respond to a singular style of coaching.
The aristocratic and authoritarian coaching style, long considered the most effective means of handling a group of athletes, is in actuality, a surefire way to negate the potential benefits of a lesson or training session.
From an ease of coaching perspective, it would be a wonderful scenario for us to only to work with those athletes whom were supremely motivated and exceptionally gifted, but in reality, this is seldom the case.
In any given group setting you have to accept the notion that your athletes will be divided in terms of both ability and motivation, and represent an eclectic cross-section of the following potential personalities:
– High Motivation/High Skill
– High Motivation/Low Skill
– Low Motivation/ High Skill
– Low Motivation/Low Skill
Each one of the sub-classifications above represents an athlete in need of a particular coaching style in order to gain and retain your speed and movement shaping lessons optimally.
I have long supported the notion that the zeal many Trainers and Coaches show with respect to conducting high intensity training sessions with young athletes is akin to the unsure actor who feels a need to "over-do" his or her role in a given appearance for fear that the audience may disapprove of his acting ability.
Almost like a "they paid for it and now I must deliver it" mind set.
As a Coach, you sometimes feel as though you must have your athletes walk away from a training session dripping with sweat and barely able to open their car doors. After all, if they don’t feel as though you are ‘training them hard enough’, they may opt to go and seek the services of a different Coach.
The problem is that overtraining syndromes are not hard to develop with adolescent athletes and must be recognized as an issue with respect to programming.
For ease of explanation sake, let’s just say that if your athlete walks into your training center at what would constitute a normal biological level, and if your training stimulus was at an intensity that would enable the athlete to dip below this normal biological level, but not be too much so as to not be able to ascend into a level of super-compensation, then, well… that would be good.
But there are energies in the world that effect an athletes recoverability from a training session (you know… recovery… that’s the part of the training routine during which your athlete’s body actually makes improvements and gains).
Do you Teach or Train and deliver great coaching young athletes?
If you are like most coaches and trainers I am familiar with, you likely ‘train’ your athletes as a means to elicit biomotor improvement.
You work on various forms of sprints and jumping in order to develop ‘blazing speed’.
You lift weights or perform bodyweight exercises to increase ‘mammoth strength’.
You set out cones and have your young athletes practice elaborate movement drills as a way of improving their ‘stealth-like agility’.
These types of exercises in themselves are not problematic or bad per say…
But they are only quasi-beneficial and extremely narrow-scoped if you aren’t looking to teach your young athletes the skills they need to perform these drills and set them up to improve on the next level.