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The answer to the problem of early specialization is to give youth sports back to the youth. Take out adult interference; get rid of the highly organized club structure (By the way most youth clubs in many sports are money making operations that in reality serve a few and feed many egos). Center sports around the schools again like they used to be. It should be part of the schools pedagogical responsibility, remember that abstract concept of a sound mind in a sound body, after school sports and physical education are a key aspect of the educational process. Centering after school sports around the schools ensures that the youngsters are supervised; there is less interference in family life. Everything is done by five PM at the latest. Make the sport seasons short and do not allow them to overlap. This will ensure that the kids will try more than one sport. Play other schools, keep score but do keep league standing. After al the English Premier League developmental do even keep score so that the focus is on development. Be sure to have a school wide play day at least once a semester where the kids are introduced to other sports like team handball. This will not hurt the athletically, they will still excel. I know from personal experience. The district where I began teaching thirty-eight years ago did this. Out of this came the greatest water polo player in the world and a pitcher who pitched in the major leagues for 20 plus years. They both played multiple sports and excelled. Another aspect of this is to encourage the kids to organize themselves. Let the older kids officiate the younger kids games. Let everyone have a spot on the teams. There is much to be said for affiliation and forming friendships. You have a better chance of doing this if you go class with teammates instead of seeing them Tuesday and Thursday night at Hot Nuts Club Hoop practice. At the high school level encourage the athletes to play multiple sports until their junior year. After that they have plenty of time to specialize. I know these thoughts are very idealistic, but I have seen them work. Let the kids play!!!

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta

@coachgambetta

Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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