Are Kids Specializing in Youth Sports Too Early?

What Happened to All the 3-Sport Athletes?

These days, many parents (and their children) are feeling pressure to specialize in a particular sport earlier and earlier.

The pressure can come from coaches, parents, trainers, kids, or the media. A billion-dollar industry has emerged to meet this growing trend

In some cases, a child's first taste of athletic success (at age 5) will send a parent on two wheels to Dick's Sporting Goods. The sales associate sees this parent from a mile away. Hello daily sales quota!

I know it's flattering when the volunteer coach tells you that Ricky or Samantha has a "big league swing". You wonder, "Could it be? Could my son/daughter be that special athlete? Could I be the next Archie Manning?"

But before quitting soccer and dance and buying Ricky a $299 T-ball bat or Samantha a $199 softball glove, consider whether specializing so early is in their best interests?

This blog post makes the case for a slower transition to specialization - or no...

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You made my son do what?

Would you want your son to experience this?

On a cool Friday afternoon in San Diego, CA, 36 high school lacrosse players (9th - 12th) were leisurely stretching out on a well-manicured grassy knoll 300 yards from the Pacific Ocean.

This was the group's final day of tryouts for the JV and Varsity lacrosse team. The participants were told to show up with a t-shirt and running shoes and to be prepared for a 3-hour workout.

Halfway through their stretching routine, two other former Navy SEAL Instructors and I emerged from of our cars and walked over to greet them. This was no ordinary greeting.

Here's how the next four hours unfolded for the group:


Activity: Introduction and (Dis)orientation

With bullhorn in hand, we told the group that the original plan had changed. The 3-hour workout had been extended to a 24-hour Hell Night where they would be tested with a series of mental and physical challenges that would last until the next day. This was not true, but we had to get the athletes...

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Lessons Learned from Thanksgiving Olympics

Every Thanksgiving, my extended family gets together in Palm Desert. Our group includes eight adults and eleven cousins from 4 - 17 years old.

For the last few years, I have organized a "Thanksgiving Day Junior Olympics" competition for the kids. This year, 8 of the 11 cousins participated.

The specific events (which are kept secret until game day) test a wide range of physical abilities, athletic skills, and random gameplay. It's an all-day affair (11am to 6pm) with a few breaks for water and snacks.

2016 List of Events

  1. Swim (sprint distance)
  2. Swim (long distance)
  3. Jump from 8-foot ledge into pool, underwater somersault immediately into a 20-foot underwater swim (all on a breath-hold)
  4. Submerge a water polo ball to bottom of pool using only one hand (must tap the bottom of pool with ball 2x)
  5. Plank (minimum 2 minutes, more points for longer endurance)
  6. Billiards
  7. Bean Bag toss
  8. Shuffleboard
  9. Running (sprint, 1x around lake)
  10. Running (long distance, 2x around lake)
  11. Running (40-yard dash...
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