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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Early Specialization and Multilateral Development

By: Joel Luedke

There has been a lot of information and articles posted out there on sport specialization and we think the trend is for good reason.  There might not be a whole lot that is new and ground breaking in this article but we thought it was important to cover the topic as being a well rounded and robust athlete is something we believe in at TAT.  Not only do we believe in being in a lot of sports when you are young but we also think you should continue to not over specialize your training as you may move into one sport or your own general training in life.


This idea to write this article came from reading through Bompa's latest release of their Periodization Book (keeping up on the skills).  Both AJ, Kyle and myself all played multiple sports when we were younger and while only one of us played college sports we all think it is very important for the development of the entire athlete.  Below are some highlights from the book and a list of ideas comparing early specialization vs. multilateral development and thoughts on them.

Early-Specialization
Quick performance improvement
-This happens too often it seems where someone excels early in age and people then extrapolate that out to the rest of their career but it never follows through.  Don't trade the potential of short term success early in a career with long term development.
Best performances achieved at 15 to 16 years of age because of quick adaptation
-Following what was stated above this seems to be where people max out and where the 'late bloomers' start catching up and even surpassing people who specialize and peak to soon.
Inconsistent performance in competition
-Along with the early achievement the maturity of the mind hasn't followed the potential physical maturity that started out sooner than later, in most cases.  This often leads to struggles and inconsistencies with performance.
High incidence of burnout and quitting sport by age 18
-Tying into the first and second points these 'gifted careers' start  too soon and end too soon as well.  
Increased risk of injury because of forced adaptation and lack of physiological development
-While weight training and training in general can be very safe early on in the development in an athlete it has to be done correctly and carefully with the understanding that "if some is good, more IS NOT always better".  Let the body develop as it should and make sure you never put strength and size on someone who doesn't have the proper movement patterns first.

Multilateral Development
Slower performance improvement
-This can be frustrating but the pay off in the end can be so much more.  Often these are the 'late bloomers' but injuries tend to be less
Best performances at age 18 or older when the athlete has reached physiological  and psychological maturation.
-This translates into better results for all the results mentioned in the main description.  Most of the time due to the length of time for this development to occur translates over to a longer career and can potentially put you into post high school sports.
Consistent and progressive performance in competition
-Tying back into maturity this leads to more consistent performance and a better longevity of the career.
Longer athletic career
-The body has been able to adapt to more stresses over the courses of many sports and seasons and this allows the body to adapt and be better able to handle the stresses put onto it.
Fewer injuries as a result of more progressive loading patterns and overall physiological development.
-Getting movement patterns set up correctly and then progressing in training makes a huge difference and this is not only in young (adolescent) training. This is important especially later into high school and even in training later in life.  Working to maintain mobility and movement is paramount and can lead to so many benefits later in life.

In summary it is extremely important to be multilateral when it comes to your (and anyone you coach) training.  It benefits you so much in the longer run and you can accomplish this by playing multiple sports and getting your body to adapt to the different stressors.  You also need to continue to apply this in your training and not just work in one plane of movement and continue to stress your body thru-out the training process.  Keep your training fresh and multi-faceted, it will be worth it in the long run.

LINK: Want to Play Football at Ohio State or Clemson-Trying Playing Other Sports Too

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