Specialisation in sport amongst children

Youth sport participation changed from recreational free-play for enjoyment to a competitive and structured driven world.  Dedicated sport-specific training is growing and results in young children specializing in sport at an early age.


The major concern with early specialisation is the greater risk for overuse injuries, especially if your child has not started with puberty, because their muscles and tendons are still developing.  For most sports, there is no evidence that intense training and specialisation before puberty are necessary to achieve athlete status.


Risks of early sports specialisation:

  • * Higher rates of injury
  • * Re occurrence of injury
  • * Increased psychological stress
  • * Quitting sports at a young age due to burnout or reduce enjoyment
  • * Child might feel isolated from friends, who is not participating in the same sport


Participating in multiple sports allows children to develop different neuromuscular patterns and improve their adaptive skills.  The different strategies, movement and skills with multiple sports can prevent injury in their chosen sport and also lead to more enjoyment, longer participation and contributing to the chances of success. It is recommended that sport specialisation can be delay to late adolescence, which may help your child achieve their goals.


Tips to help your child maintain a healthy balance on the sports field:

  • * Hours of specific sport training should be limited to not greater than the child’s age.
  • * It is recommended to rest 1 to 2 days from sport during a week.
  • * It is vital to rest 3 months from sport in a year cycle, which helps with physical and psychological recovery.
  • * Multiple sport participation is recommended, which helps to improve self-esteem and also to develop neurodevelopmental and leadership skills.




  1. Jayanthi, Pinkham, Dugas, et al.,2013
  2. Ennis, 2019. (https://www.uchealth.org/today/should-kids-specialize-in-one-sport/)