More on Athletics – specialization

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As we personalize education – an expectation that is increasing among families and students – how is it consistent to say that we don’t want to build an athletic program that focuses on specialization? After all, shouldn’t a student pursue his or her passion in sports? If the student has both passion and talent, shouldn’t that student have the opportunity to become most fully the athlete that is his or her potential? Wouldn’t our sports teams be stronger if we did build our athletic program that way?

While there are examples of athletes for whom this approach might work, such examples are rare; much more common is the athlete who loses the passion, or suffers injury through focus on certain bodily mechanics associated with one sport. As for our sports teams: numerous experts, and much research, points to the longterm benefits to your teams if athletes do not specialize.

A student who has a passion, and who has talent, is going to spend more of his or her time where success occurs. That is inevitable. Athletes and parents, however, need to know what is the best avenue to success, and in planning an athletic program for all athletes in the School, we have to be guided by current best practices, and research.

Here is a link to an article discussing the issue, with reference to some worthy examples and authorities. The Perils of Single Sport Participation.

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Bob Snowden
Bob Snowden is Head of School at St. Michaels University School.

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