DO I HAVE TO PLAY SOCCER ALL THE TIME? By: Gordon Miller VYSA Technical Director In the past, we have discussed the fact that playing soccer 24 hours a day, seven days a week does not automatically equate into the making of a high-level player. However, it seems now more than ever, that more leagues are cropping up, more camps are promoted, more organized training sessions are being instituted and more supplemental training programs (speed work, core conditioning, yoga, etc.) are being offered. Painting the picture that your child better get on this all-consuming soccer only juggernaut or they just might get left behind. Specialize now or forget ever making it! However, there are still countless examples of professional athletes who played different sports growing up and still attained all pro status in their respective sports. If we scratch the surface a little, they are right in front of our face; Steph Curry had time for golf, Sidney Crosby played baseball, and Derek Jeter played basketball in high school. Closer to home, Kirk Cousins played basketball and baseball in high school. Ryan Zimmerman played basketball, Alex Ovechkin played soccer and Elena Delle Donne, who played volleyball at the University of Delaware, before returning to the basketball team on the way to the Washington Mystics of the WNBA. Not too long ago, children could squeeze in playing different sports and still satisfy that coach’s particular demands. Now, and soccer isn’t the only sport, the coaches seem to be demanding that the player commits only to them and to the sport at an earlier and earlier age. Is this healthy? Let’s take a look at some data: First, here are five research excerpts that demonstrate how early specialization may negatively affect your child: 1 Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes according to pediatric orthopedic specialists. Growing bodies can become overstressed by repetition and that stress can lead to injuries. A lack of rest and recovery time in year-round sports exacerbates the problem. There are plenty of examples of serious, grown-up sports injuries happening to kids at younger and younger ages, from Tommy John surgery for 12-year-olds to high school girls with
The official e-newsletter of the Virginia Youth Soccer Association.