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Early Sport Specialization Can Lead to Burnout

An athlete who specializes early or plays on an ultra-competitive select team is at increased risk of burnout or quitting sports as a result of chronic stress, repetitive strain1 and a decrease in intrinsic motivation and enjoyment during their training sessions. 2

No matter how athletically gifted your child may seem, if playing sports isn't fun, if your daughter feels pressure to achieve greatness, it won't be long before she quits. If she does, you will always be left to wonder what she could have achieved had she taken a more balanced approach to sports.

Swim team in pool

Even talented athletes can tire of their sport because of what it takes to win. The boy's swimming program at Greenwich (CT) High School has been hugely successful, losing only one meet in the last twenty-five years. Yet just a handful of swimmers have gone on to swim in college. After participating in two-a-day practices, morning and night, every day for four years, it's no wonder they were sick of swimming! 

Use your intuition to find the right balance, one that helps your child develop his skills but doesn't burn up all of his athletic energy too early. 



1.  Gould D, Tuffey S, Udry E, Loehr J.  Burnout in competitive junior tennis players: Qualitative analysis.  Sport Psychologist 1996;10:341-346. 

2. Wall M, Coté J. Developmental activities that lead to drop out and investment in sport.  Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy 2007;12:77-87.

3. DiFiori JP, Benjamin HJ, Brenner J, Gregory A, Jayanthi N, Landry GL, Luke A. Overuse Injuries and Burnout in Youth Sports: A Position Statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. Clin J Sports Med. 2014;24(1):3-20.

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