As any athlete or coach will tell you, spending time on your sport is of the utmost importance. Naturally there is a desire to spend more and more on one sport and cut out others. As someone who has done this myself and who is conducting research on this, I am very aware of its impact. There are many pros and cons with sports specialization, and it is very important to consider if you are thinking about specializing.
The pros revolve around the idea of improving that one sport. It is undeniable that spending time in a sport will improve your performance. You can see at the highest level of almost every sport that the best athletes are spending a ton of time in their sport and they are starting early. This doesn’t mean they aren’t doing other sports as well though.
On the other hand, early sport specialization has some problems as well. The increased stress on your body from doing these motions repeatedly causes injuries at a much higher level than is normal. These injuries also tend to be much more serious than injuries from athletes who aren’t specialized. Athletes who specialize at a younger age also suffer burnout at a much higher rate. Burnout is when an athlete loses interest in a sport because they have pushed too hard within that sport. Athletes also can experience more mental health illnesses after specializing, such as anxiety. These disorders are much more common in athletes who have specialized than athletes who haven’t.
Ultimately, every athlete must make this decision for themselves, but knowledge of pros and cons is important for any decision.