In Aurora's The Beacon-News Jim Owczarski takes a unique look at the current trend of sports specialization in his article Swimming Upstream.
Jim's piece focuses on Lou Solarte's (PGA golf instructor) "push back" against this trend by emphasizing the development of athleticism within athletes in his "junior programs at Hilton Indian Lakes Resort in Bloomingdale and his 5 Tool Baseball Academy in Naperville."
It's not that Solarte is against specialization in whole but at what age it is occurring (too young) and at the exclusion of developing the athlete completely. His concern centers on the fact that basic movements are not being learned, which narrows the ultimate potential level that the athlete can reach. Basically, that early specialization at the exclusion of playing or doing other sports is self-limiting.
Similar in point to views portrayed against specialization in my three-part series, Specialization in Youth Sports, Good or Bad?, Solarte states in the article:
"Kids that specialize too early don't tend to develop to their highest level. When I look at kids at the baseball academy, they can't do basic movements. They can't do a pushup or have any sensory awareness or balance. A lot of the kids are really poorly coordinated. It was just mind numbing."
In addition, Solarte details his objectives:
"We develop kids' athleticism first but in conjunction with their golf skills. What's happening with kids in our society today is a good majority of them just don't know how to move. What we're finding is we can just get a lot more out of them if we can teach them basic movement skill training. Their golf gets better, their baseball gets better."
This is something I wholeheartedly agree with. It is not necessarily that sports specialization in and of itself is bad but to do so at too young of an age, and at the exclusion of complete athleticism development, is what we really should be discouraging.
Sounds good to me, your thoughts???