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After School Specialized

Studies discourage specialization for young athletes

How young is too young? Experts say children should definitely become physically active early, just not specialize in a single sport at a young age. So why is specialization considered a problem? Studies show sport specialization can lead to overuse injuries and burnout, limit long-term athletic potential and perhaps even cause higher rates of adult physical inactivity. The NCAA’s recent Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College study found a majority of current college athletes competed year-round in a single sport during their youth, and many of them – depending on the sport, from 13 to 43 percent of them – now wish they had been given opportunities to sample other sports while growing up. A love of sport, of course, is special, but too much of that good thing can be detrimental. 

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About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.