There is a lot of pressure on parents today to pursue aggressive education pathways early on, in an effort to try and give their child the best chance at success later on in life.
For those who might hope that their child becomes the next star athlete, many probably assume that it's best to get them started early on, focused on one sport only. This way, they hope to get the greatest return with their efforts, while funneling all of their resources into trying to get better at one thing, as opposed to spreading that effort across different activities.
But scientists have discovered that early specialization doesn't always mean that you'll see the sport success that you hope to reach.
In fact, it's been shown to even have detrimental effects; researchers assert that it's better to play a variety of sports and not focus on one specifically, early on, and put all the attention solely toward that activity alone.
Researchers have discovered that early sports specialization can lead to higher injury rates with athletes.
By spending the time engaged in a variety of activities, it also helps to exercise different muscle groups, whereas you wouldn't get the same if you played the same sport all of the time.
Scientists have suggested that if you play the same sport regularly, that you are only exercising certain muscle groups, putting your body through the same repetitive movements etc, and this can increase the risk of injury and overuse.
There are many athletes out there today who didn't specialize in their sport at an early age, earlier than 12 for example, many of them engaged in multiple sports before landing on one that they would focus on for the majority of the time.
There are a variety of examples of successful athletes who did get started early though.
There's Floyd Mayweather, who allegedly started training when he was just a baby in his crib. By the age of 16, Tiger Woods was already playing professionally, allegedly starting to learn the game when he was only 6 months old. Michael Phelps by the age of 15 was competing in the Olympic Games for swimming.
Not every success story got started young. Heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder, in contrast, didn't start training until much later in life, at the age of 20. Tom Brady didn't play tackle football as a kid either, and is another example of success that didn't start as early as others might have.
While rushing to pick one sport to specialize in might seem like it could give the best results, there are benefits that come along with diversifying those athletic activities. Did you know Bruce Lee was also a dancing champion? Researchers affirm that by improving in one sport that it can then help you to improve in another as a result and for this reason, such sports diversification should be looked at as an asset with the potential to provide a variety of benefits.