Is it right to specialize in sports? Does it benefit an athlete in any way? I have always wondered about this topic. Growing up I played many sports. At one time or another I played baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, gymnastics and wrestling. I have always loved athletics, and for me it wasn’t until I got to college that I specialized in a sport. I don’t know if it is because my parents wanted me and my older brother to stay active, or if they believed it was best for us to play sports we wanted to play no matter how many it was, but specialization was never a topic I worried about. Sports in general offer many advantages to kids. Specializing in a specific sport, in my opinion, at too young of an age could have negative effects on future athletes. For example, if a ten-year-old boy is told that he will play football and that he will only play football he may eventually grow to resent the sport. If his whole life is centered on becoming the best football player he can be, he could easily burn out and learn to hate the sport he was told to love. On the other hand, if a young athlete chooses to specialize in a sport, there must be enough love and passion for that sport for them to make that decision. I think that’s what my parents were trying to achieve. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play whatever sport I wanted. I was able to try out different things until I finally made the decision on my own to focus my time and effort on playing football. I think that if I had been restricted to just playing football, I would have lost my interest in the sport. I also think that if a child plays multiple sports he develops the skills that are unique to those sports. For me, I still have the flexibility from gymnastics and wrestling, hand eye coordination from baseball, and the mental toughness it takes to compete at any sport at a semi-high level. I believe that there are many answers to the question of whether it is better for a child to specialize in a sport at an early age or to explore different sports until they choose the sport that they want to specialize in. What do you think? Is specialization a big aspect of sports these days? On a similar note, does it take specializing early to become an elite athlete?
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