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AnnaBeav

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Reply with quote  #1 
I just read this article about overspecialization in sports.

http://theprovince.com/news/local-news/fear-greed-broken-dreams-how-early-sports-specialization-is-eroding-youth-sports/wcm/cb643cc3-54d1-4a19-a806-cb5cdcf48b7d

I agree that kids are pushed to go "all-in" on one sport or activity to the exclusion of others. My DD8 was offered a spot on a pre-comp gymnastics team recently but she would have to drop the majority of her dance classes to join basically choosing gymnastics over dance. The coaches have said if she wants to progress she needs to commit.

Currently my philosophy is as long as she danced she would have to do a non-dance activity to prevent burnout and to have something else she enjoyed if she decided to quit dancing. She does gymnastics to improve flexibility and tumbling skills. But I would be just as happy if she chose soccer.

Do you ever worry about burn out or injuries especially for younger kids?
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PasDeChatMom

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Reply with quote  #2 
My daughter is a teen now but she's been in ballet schools since age 6 and the ballet world is so much different than the comp dance world, especially at the younger ages. At 6 she had one 1-hour class a week. At 8 I believe she was bumped to two classes per week. At 10 she only had 3 classes per week. So that schedule lent itself to outside activities and also a lower chance of burnout or injury. Today you have 6 year olds at some studios dancing 10 hours per week - that kind of schedule would definitely have me more concerned.
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #3 
It was my philosophy for all 4 of my kids.  No zeroing in on anything until they were 12 or so (if at all, it was not a requirement that they zero on anything if they chose not to).  They are 12, 15, 16 and 18 now and we've never regretted that decision.
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Jacaranda

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Reply with quote  #4 
This is going to depend a lot on whatnthey want to do. For most activities it is great to do a variety of sports and activities, to develop many different kinds of strength and coordination, then specialise in the teen years. But not all.

Gymnastics is an early specialisation sport, To make it to the elite level, by 12 you need to already be a level 9-10, which means training 20-30 hours a week (and having done so for several years), winning at a national level and already being selected for ore national team level camps and events. To gain a college scholarship, by 12 you already need to be at least a solid level 8, training very seriously.

If you wait until age 12 to specialise in gymnastics then you missed the boat and most gyms won't even look at you twice.

The problem is that lots of sports and activities, that are not early specialisation sports are treating g their own sport as an early specialisation sport. Remember when you had to be 6 or 7 to play a team sport? Now they have leagues for 2 year olds. Despite the research showing that sports that use the same repetitive movements are actually not safe to learn in the pre school age. Pre school kids should be learning activities that use a wide range of movements patterns like dance, gymnastics and swimming before doing the repetitive movement sports when they are older.
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tiptoemom

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Reply with quote  #5 
agree with @PasDeChatMom my now 18 year old daughter started with only 1 hour long preballet class from 2-7. At 8 she was in 2 hour long classes. Ballet is or was, a slow boil. She was able to play soccer and attend CCD classes and swim all summer. 
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #6 
Personally and professionally I believe premature focus and training is detrimental on almost all levels of development. That said, the world around us is the world around us and there are beliefs and attitudes that have developed over time that disregard all of the evidence to support delaying specialization. The push is for faster achievement of milestones, earlier advancement to levels that were previously achieved years later than they currently are and the push is coming from both the coaches and the parents... the young athletes have fewer and fewer places to look for examples of "wait and develop on your own schedule" to lean on when the external are felt. Add to that the "insta" factor and we are where we are.

DD was told at 6, yes 6 years of age, that she was "too old" to start serious pursuit of gymnastics. This was a child who could do front and back walkovers, hand stands, straddle rotate up to handstands (whatever you call that) and all sorts of turns and leaps comfortably on the beam not to mention back walkovers on the beam. Nevertheless she was "too old" to seriously pursue the sport without home schooling and 5 to 6 hours a day in the gym and "a lot of ground to make up". Was this coach a "bit much", probably. But they were just being honest about the world around us and what others were already doing and the competition we would be putting her up against. A little nutty, maybe, but it is what it is. 

Parents are going to need to continually stick to their guns with regards to this. Some kids will absolutely be physically and mentally up to the rigors of intense early specialization, but they are the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, until their little bodies "break" no one knows which kids are cut out for early specialization and which are not. So... full circle, it's up to the parents to make that call. 

It's been going on in gymnastics for a very long time and it has now come around to the world of competitive dance. At the end of the day it's up to the parents to make the calls. In my opinion, it's absolute balderdash for anyone to try to hang that call around the neck of a coach. It's on you the parent and on you alone.
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DanceMommy2Riley

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Reply with quote  #7 
My DD started dance later on (she was 10). We tried to "push" her into dance when she was younger, but she just had no interest at the time. She was very strong willed and we couldn't force her to do anything LOL! She tried soccer - hated it, skating - hated it, swimming - was on the swim team at one point, but decided later on it wasn't for her, and gymnastics. She started gymnastics when she was five and was in it until she was 10, but stopped to try dance instead. She actually went to one dance class when she was about 4 - once again hated it and threw a fit and said she didn't want to go back. We didn't force her, and she came to us at 10 asking if she could try dance again. If we knew then what we know now! [biggrin]
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DanceMommy2Riley

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorax
Personally and professionally I believe premature focus and training is detrimental on almost all levels of development. That said, the world around us is the world around us and there are beliefs and attitudes that have developed over time that disregard all of the evidence to support delaying specialization. The push is for faster achievement of milestones, earlier advancement to levels that were previously achieved years later than they currently are and the push is coming from both the coaches and the parents... the young athletes have fewer and fewer places to look for examples of "wait and develop on your own schedule" to lean on when the external are felt. Add to that the "insta" factor and we are where we are.

DD was told at 6, yes 6 years of age, that she was "too old" to start serious pursuit of gymnastics. This was a child who could do front and back walkovers, hand stands, straddle rotate up to handstands (whatever you call that) and all sorts of turns and leaps comfortably on the beam not to mention back walkovers on the beam. Nevertheless she was "too old" to seriously pursue the sport without home schooling and 5 to 6 hours a day in the gym and "a lot of ground to make up". Was this coach a "bit much", probably. But they were just being honest about the world around us and what others were already doing and the competition we would be putting her up against. A little nutty, maybe, but it is what it is. 

Parents are going to need to continually stick to their guns with regards to this. Some kids will absolutely be physically and mentally up to the rigors of intense early specialization, but they are the exception and not the rule. Unfortunately, until their little bodies "break" no one knows which kids are cut out for early specialization and which are not. So... full circle, it's up to the parents to make that call. 

It's been going on in gymnastics for a very long time and it has now come around to the world of competitive dance. At the end of the day it's up to the parents to make the calls. In my opinion, it's absolute balderdash for anyone to try to hang that call around the neck of a coach. It's on you the parent and on you alone.



My DD (at 10) was told she was too old to start dance (particularly ballet). Now, my kiddo has a mind of her own and was adamant that she was going to try ballet whether the studio owner liked it or not! The studio owner would not allow her to try ballet and DD was devastated. So, we went somewhere else (to a studio that did allow her to try ballet). This year, she got in the top 12 at YAGP. Where is that studio owner now? LOL!! [rolleyes]
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Lorax

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Reply with quote  #9 
I love your story, dancemomtoriley. I love your kid's determination even more. Good for her !
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Dancingemu

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Reply with quote  #10 
I don't worry about burn out because we're not there everyday. If she was there most days of the week, I'd be concerned, but if she did burn out, we'd drop it at the end of the season for something else active.
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LilMama

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Reply with quote  #11 
Although DD9 is still very young, she has already tried swimming, figure skating and rhythmic gymnastic. All progreesed well among her peers at the time. She picks up things fast so I don’t really worry about burnout as she can easily switch to other activities later on. We just go with the flow.
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dance010

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanceMommy2Riley



My DD (at 10) was told she was too old to start dance (particularly ballet). Now, my kiddo has a mind of her own and was adamant that she was going to try ballet whether the studio owner liked it or not! The studio owner would not allow her to try ballet and DD was devastated. So, we went somewhere else (to a studio that did allow her to try ballet). This year, she got in the top 12 at YAGP. Where is that studio owner now? LOL!! [rolleyes]


Wow!! How old is your daughter now? 😉
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prancer

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Reply with quote  #13 
Interesting add - our physical therapist reluctantly believes that early specialization is required to be a top level contender today, and of course early specialization leads to over use injuries.  So he develops individually tailored programs for athletes to help balance their bodies by working the muscles in the ways that their sports do not require to keep balance and prevent injury as much as possible.  
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Motherhem

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Reply with quote  #14 
Ok I read the article. What a bunch of bunk. It takes totally unrelated things and puts them together with someone’s hypothesis and introduces the hypothesis as fact.
First the writer says kids are quitting sports in droves because parents push them too hard. Really? If parents are pushing too hard why are the same parents allowing them to quit? The answer is they wouldn’t be allowed to quit. The fact that the kids don’t see sports as fun says more about society and kids than the one thing the writer zeros in on. Video games, TV, cellphones,the internet, snapchat, instagram, insta-fame. These are the reasons why kids are quitting sports. Sports are too hard and require too much work and commitment.

Then the writer turns the coin over and talks about the few kids who do specialize in an activity but clearly he has chosen to talk about the very few who do things too soon too fast. Like the 9 year old on pointe. We all know it is too soon and too dangerous. There is no way her bones and joints are ready for pointe shoes. Yet some teacher and some parent have allowed that to happen. But more dancers are kept off pointe until their bones harden at 11 or 12. After years of building up their knees and ankles to be able to safely dance in pointe shoes.

Then the writer turns the coin in it side to point to a single girl who will never play her sport again. The poor girl hurt herself and cant play that sport seriously again. There was no mention of her parents pushing her to play. It was her passion and a part of who she was and the writer implies somehow, that it is awful that her passion was allowed to become a part of her identity. Well I am here to tell you we all have passions and they become a part of our identity. This analogy is harsh but I think it points out the very problem with the writers accusation. Take a parent like my friend who lost her kid in a car accident. A huge part of her identity was being her child’s mom. The loss and tragedy was not just about losing her child. She also lost a part of who she was as a person. Does that mean she should have not done it so well to begin with? Should she not have applied herself as a mother so it wasn’t a part of who she was? No. It does not. And to imply they kids not be allowed to find a passion, a single thing and stick with it because it might become a part of their identity is ridiculous. Do kids use their grades as a part of their identity? Their friends? The passions? Of course they do. Implying that the fear of loss should have kept that girl from pursuing her passion equates to saying a mom shouldn’t love their kid too much. Silly.

I have 4 children - 3 girls and a boy. They all chose their own path. They played a variety of sports, They played in the band, they joined the debate club, basketball baseball volleyball. The list goes on and on. Only two of them locked onto a passion. Only two of them were ever hurt in a sport. In HS my son began playing football. He had played basketball and baseball all his life. One day on the field in a game he was hit hard with a helmet and it ruptured his spleen. He loved football. He had visions of going pro. He had been playing 4 years. He was also 5’8” and about 140lbs. He was never going to go pro. It was my job as a parent to tell him he did not have the physical capacity to be a football player. He didn’t want to hear it and it took being hospitalized for him to accept it. My oldest girl tried everything and stuck with nothing. That is still her personality today. I wouldn’t let her quit until the season was over. I also supported her not doing any activity. It took her becoming an adult Ron find her passion. That is OK. My middle daughter played soccer and volleyball in high school. She loved it but she never dreamed of going pro. She would likely have played in college for fun but she blew out her knee going for a save her junior year. By choice she played until she graduated and quit. Nothing to do with passion, specialization, or being pushed by her parent. My youngest started dancing for fun. We moved when she was eight and didn’t find a studio right away. A year later she asked to start taking ballet again. I found her a studio. She joined for fun. Then she was selected for intensive study. She was so happy. I don’t even know extensive study was an option. Now she is 16. She wants to dance the rest of her life. Is it risky? Could she get hurt one day? Yes. With any sport there’s is the possibility of getting hurt. My point? Injuries do no equal over specialization. Having a passion doesn’t equate to parental pushing.

Fewer kids today have passions than before. Not in this day of playing without keeping scores because no team should win. Those groups that believe no kids should be better at the sport than other kids. Everyone gets to play. Whether they have talent or not. They think no kid should ever feel the sting of being on a losing team. Teaching kids not to try hard or be their best because someone else might not be as good. That is detrimental to our society.

Dance is something that must be started young. We say it regularly. It is very rare to start ballet at 14 and have a chance at going pro. Yet in all my years as a dance parent I have only met one mom of a young dancer who had serious visions of her daughter as a Prima ballerina. Her daughter was 8. The mom said, my daughter will dance whether she wants to or not. She will be a Prima one day. I said, what about what she wants? The mom said, I don’t care what she wants. I said that is selfish. It is her life. You can’t make her be a dancer if she wants to quit. At the time the little girl loved to dance. About a year later her daughter gained a ton of weight. Then puberty hit. It became clear that her daughter did not have the grace or musicality required of ballet. She lacked passion. The studio put her in enrichment. The non intensive side. The mom was devastated. The little girl was sad but also relieved. She danced 1 or 2 more years and gave it up. She doesn’t do anything now but hang with her friends. I know there are parents like that. The football dad. The baseball dad. the piano mom. But based on what I see in the world I have been in, the parents aren’t doing the pushing. They are the ones saying no. That is too much. And that is their job as parents. Just like I had to tell my son he was not cut out to be a football player.

My last point. At the very end of the article the writer tries to apply his faulty logic to other activities: non sports activities. Yet nothing in his statistics and research applies to choir or band, etc, Also if kids aren’t playing sports and they aren’t sitting at home. What are they doing? Non sport activities. Wow. Shocker.

People just because someone writes an article and includes statistics does not mean they are an expert or that their hypothesis is correct. Not everyone was a straight A student. Some doctors made straight C’s in college and guess what? They are doctors. That is why you must be smart. Question so called experts. Do your own research. And get second opinions.

*motherhem steps down from the soapbox*.

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DanceMommy2Riley

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dance010


Wow!! How old is your daughter now? 😉


She is about to turn 16. 😉
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dance010

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanceMommy2Riley


She is about to turn 16. 😉


Really cool, good for her. My daughter didn't start dancing until she was 13. She just turned 20 and is headed toward a professional commercial dance career in Los Angeles! Kids are amazing lol!
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AnnaBeav

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Motherhem
Ok I read the article. What a bunch of bunk. People just because someone writes an article and includes statistics does not mean they are an expert or that their hypothesis is correct.  *motherhem steps down from the soapbox*.


Earlier I wrote a snarky response to this post but I deleted it because I am not going to get into it over comments that bothered me for a moment from some anonymous person. 
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heidi459

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Reply with quote  #18 
I think that it's important to remember that something like this is just a general warning... not intended to make anyone who may have made/make different choices feel bad.  The issues they speak of of are certainly worth thinking about it.  People ('experts' and casual observers alike) have been witnessing/discussing it for years now  With all due respect, simply dismissing it because the advice doesn't apply to 100% of cases (or because you don't think it applies to you/your kid) is to miss the point.
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DanceMommy2Riley

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dance010


Really cool, good for her. My daughter didn't start dancing until she was 13. She just turned 20 and is headed toward a professional commercial dance career in Los Angeles! Kids are amazing lol!


Sorry for not getting back to you sooner - I just saw your reply! [wave]

Congrats to your DD! Our kiddos are proof that dancers can still be successful, even if they start late... Starting late is hard - many teachers are dismissive (at least we found this) because they figure it's too late to catch up with the dancers who have been in dance since they could walk. Of course, this is not always true. My DD has worked so hard to get where she is now, and it sounds like your DD did too!! Good for her!! [smile]
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