Amy Walsh, Director of Sport Development at Sport Nova Scotia, says that diving, the sport Evans’ youngest daughter is in, along with some others like gymnastics, and figure skating, require early specialization; however typically children under twelve should be encouraged to sample multiple sports, and not worry about specializing until their teens.
Walsh points to the Long Term Athlete Development Model that shows how much a child should be practicing a sport for their age, and says that by trying several sports children develop physical literacy.
“When children are learning to read, we start with the ABC’s and then progress to words, then sentences, and eventually stories,” Walsh says. “Physical literacy is similar in that we must first teach the fundamental movement skills so children will have the competence and confidence to try many different sports and physical activities.”
Walsh understands that parents may worry that their child will miss out by not being involved in one sport year-round, but claims that’s not the case.
“[Research] showed that to reach excellence and elite levels in a sport, single-sport training is not the vital factor in determining success; however developing physical literacy and specializing late is,” Walsh explains.
She says the main thing is to let kids have fun exploring sport in their early years.
“If kids are playing a variety of sports with a focus on fun and hard work, with time they will find their own preferred path in sport,” Walsh says. “They will also have the best chance of being active for life. And isn’t that really the whole point?”I'm curious - did you know what your sport was early on? Did you focus on just one, or try several sports?