2 Keys to Developing Your Junior Athlete
Avoid Early Specializing
What is Early Specialization?!
Early specialization is a phrase you may hear more than anything when discussing junior athletic development. At Elevate SPC, we define this concept as a junior athlete that plays one single sport and excludes playing all other sports and activities. It’s rational to think the more we practice the better we get, right? In terms of skill development, there is a lot of merit to that thinking. Now when are talking about athletic development, there are more things to consider.
The beautiful part of sports is that each sport requires and develops different athletic capacities depending on which sports your athlete plays. Depending on the sport, an athlete may be exposed to more sprinting, jumping, multidirectional speed, throwing, kicking, or all of the above. We can compare jumpers in basketball, throwers in baseball, and kickers in soccer. All three of them develop a unique level of athletic capacity to excel in that sports arena. What's even more important is that all three of those different athletic capacities have massive carry over into other sports they play! Neglecting these other athletic capacities that other sports give us has more of a negative impact than focusing on one sport only and the statistics don’t lie.
The level of athleticism required to play at a high level in high school, college, and professional levels continues to increase. All of these high-level athletes have one thing in common and most of them had the ability to play other sports at a very high level, but chose the one they wanted to focus on and compete in.
Check out this statistic from the 2018 NFL Draft.
The big takeaway is that we want to focus on building well-rounded athletes first through their middle and high school ages. We can accomplish this by having them participate in other sports that display different forms of athletic capacities that their single sport may not expose them to such as jumping, sprinting, cutting, throwing, or kicking. The carryover we are seeing from athletes participating in multiple sports is rewarding them when they do decide to specialize on one single sport. We want our athletes to build skill and overall athleticism at the same time through their developmental years.
Here is another article that talks about Early Specialization and how it relates to golfers. This particular article is from the Titleist Performance Institute and is a must read for all parents. Being an athlete is just as important for sports such as golf and tennis as it is in football and basketball.
So.... Where should you start?
Focus on Foundation
We have a lot of junior athletes that don’t particularly enjoy playing other sports and have a passion for only one sport. We supplement these missing athletic capacities in our athletic development programs at Elevate SPC. Our focus when training our younger athletes is to build the foundation that every athlete needs to be successful. This includes mobility training, jumping, sprinting, cutting, stability training, and introductions to strength, speed, and power. Too many junior athletes are fast-tracking into a collegiate level strength and conditioning programs and lack the fundamental requirements to allow a solid strength program to benefit them, which is where we see a lot of our injuries and issues in training.
Below is our Performance Pyramid that shows how we develop our athletes no matter what sport they play. Once we build the foundation, we continue to build well-rounded athletes that succeed in whichever sport they choose to play down the road.
Elevate in the Community
Our very own coaches Brian Chandler and Fernando Garcia inspired this article when they traveled to San Diego to work with over 40 youth athletes at the inaugural Nick Hundley youth baseball camp. The camp had athletes from 6-17 years old and we worked on footwork, multi-directional speed, and arm care health for throwers. We also did a Q&A with all of the parents and this exact topic was talked about quite a bit. Our mindset is that we want to set our junior athletes up for success in the long run and allow them to be the best they can be physically.
We would love to have any parents and athletes to come in and watch or participate in our junior athletic development class on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 6:30 pm.
If you have any questions at all about this, or how we utilize our system to help your athlete, feel free to call us at 702-558-2151 to speak to one of our coaches.