Sport Specialization by Younger Players

Jul 25, 2016

There is a lot of discussion today about sport specialization at a young age.  It seems that each year the trend is to have kids specialize in a particular sport at a younger and younger age.  Is that the best for your child? 

There are a number of studies and articles that talk about this trend and almost all encourage children to play multiple sports until they reach at least high school.  After talking to experts, Safety Kids Worldwide says there are several advantages to playing multiple sports: 

  • Playing multiple sports reduces overuse injuries and keeps children playing longer. 

  • Playing multiple sports develops different muscle groups and increases athleticism. 

  • Playing multiple sports produces the best athletes because children are exposed to different scenarios and challenges. 

It is also important to note that sport specialization does not necessarily guarantee success at the next level and does not guarantee a college scholarship.  Here are some statics from a 2015 NCAA study:  

  • High School Athletes in the United States – nearly 8 million.  NCAA College Athletes in the United States – 460,000.  Less than 6% of high school athletes go on to play in college. 

  • Baseball –  of the 482,000 high school baseball players only 6.9% will play in college 

  • Boys Basketball – of the 541,000 high school players only 3.4% will play in college 

  • Football – of the 1,093,000 high school players only 6.5% will play in College 

  • Girls Basketball – of the 433,000 high school players only 3.8% will play in college 

  • Girls Soccer – of the 374,000 high school players only 5.1% will play in college  

  • Girls Volleyball – of the 429,000 high school players only 3.9% will play in college 

So, here are three tips to remember when you are thinking about sport specialization: 

  1. At a younger age, encourage your child to play multiple sports 

  1. Consider specialization only after your child enters high school 

  1. Playing multiple sports reduces injuries and helps your child reach their full potential. 

For more information, please view these sources: 

NCAA Estimated probability of competing in college athletics 


Eric Koeppe

Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President

National Safety Council, Nebraska

Category :  Community Safety

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