Should Your Child Choose a Sports Specialization?

From the Show: Healthy Children
Summary: Are there benefits if your child chooses a sports specialization early?
Air Date: 2/7/17
Duration: 17:12
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Joel Brenner, MD
Brenner Joel Dr. Joel Brenner is an associate professor of pediatrics at the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, VA. He is the medical director of the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters sports medicine and adolescent medicine programs, the Director of the CHKD Sports Concussion program, Dance Medicine program and Running Program. He is trained in pediatrics, sports medicine and adolescent medicine.

Dr. Brenner is the immediate-past chairperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness.

Currently Dr. Brenner is the team physician for local high schools and Norfolk State University, Governor's School for the Arts, Todd Rosenlieb Dance and Virginia Ballet Theater.

He lectures locally, nationally and internationally on various sports medicine topics including "concussions in youth" and "overuse and over-training in young athletes."
Should Your Child Choose a Sports Specialization?
You watch your child participate in sports with a mixture of pride and fear. You may even have hopes for your child to have a successful career in sports.

Sports are an excellent form of exercise. Starting sports young creates a lifelong habit of physical activity. Children can also learn leadership, teamwork, and socialization from participating in team sports.

When is specialization a good idea and when is it not?

Specializing early can be detrimental to a young person's health. The same muscles are constantly being worked and can become overly fatigued. These kids will be at higher risk for injuries and burnout.

Playing multiple sports at a young age can lead to more success as an athlete. Ninety percent of the first round NFL draft picks in 2016 played multiple sports in high school. The majority of female soccer players in the 2015 World Cup played multiple sports as well.

Encourage your kids to find sports they enjoy. Fun is the main factor that will keep them participating. They don't have to play organized sports to be active. Deliberate play without adult organization will help them succeed, as well as provide recovery time from other sports.

Only one percent of high school athletes will receive a scholarship for sports. That scholarship may only cover part of college expenses. Only .03% of high school athletes will reach a professional level. Feel out your child's desire to succeed with a sport and support that. You can't tell if a ten-year-old will eventually become a professional.

By trying out multiple sports, your child may find skill and joy in something unexpected. Be your child's advocate. Make sure she has one to two days off each week from her particular sport.

Listen in as Dr. Joel Brenner shares the importance of variety in your young athlete's sports involvement. For more information on sports specialization, you can check out Dr. Brenner's report here.
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