Young Athletes Should Avoid Event Specialisation
It is common for people to think that the best way to become a “top level” athlete is to concentrate on training exclusively for a certain event (or to “specialise”) from a young age.
This early specialisation, however, may limit overall skill development. Only doing movements associated with a single event may restrict a young athlete’s overall development of such things as coordination, balance, agility, flexibility and strength – all of which are essential to high performance sport!
If a young athlete wants to one day reach a high performance level, they will need to specialise at some time. But the results will be much more effective after they have given themselves a strong multi-event base. Specialisation should not occur before 15 or 16 years of age.
Do you agree? Have your say via the poll at the end of this post!
Advice for Young Athletes
1. Focus on becoming an “athlete” rather than a “runner”, “jumper”, “thrower” or “walker”
Try all of the events! It’s much more fun! Keep your options open. Work on running, jumping, throwing and walking skills.
2. Don’t convince yourself that you can’t do or are not suited to an event
Keep your mind open – it is amazing how many elite athletes now compete in events that they did not dominate at a younger age.
3. Be aware that everyone grows and develops at different rates
The body type that you have now may not be the body type that you have in several years’ time. It is difficult to tell what events your body will suit once you have finished growing. Practice for all of the events so that you can leave yourself options.
4. Have patience
Be aware that if you take a multi-event approach to training, you may not improve as quickly in each event as someone who is specialising in one event, but your improvements will be more consistent and longer-lasting. Be patient and the results will come!
What are your thoughts on event specialisation?
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Darren Wensor is a sports development professional, coach educator, specialist coach of young athletes, and founder of the blog coachingyoungathletes.com. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or via email. Check out Coaching Young Athletes on YouTube, the Coaching Young Athletes podcast, and the Coaching Young Athletes E-Book Series.