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Single sport (golf) specialization - when?


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My son has his learner's permit so I think that qualifies him as a low level stock car driver.

I think the athlete (son or daughter) needs to make that decision since it is the life they will lead and could resent you "forcing" them in one direction. In order to be successful in any sport requi

For boys the fallout occurs around the time their interest in girls increases... there's also a lot of missed social stuff that some will resent.

Will tell you in a few years. Currently the specializer's have a massive advantage on my son - or maybe he is not that good. Who knows?

 

 

From 7-11yr, he played 4 sports (travel ice hockey, taekwondo, tennis and golf).  Between  11-13 we are down to Travel Hockey and Golf. He did play soccer and tennis for his middle school team but that is fun and not ultra competitive. 

 

We are still debating about travel ice hockey this year.  The 2Cs (covid and checking) are a big risk.  Nevertheless he cant take a complete break from Golf any longer. Prior to last year he would NOT pick up a golf club for 4 months, last year we practiced 3-4x a month during the winter season.  The plan is too work on strength and practice at least 2-3x a week this off season.  He will turn 14 next year so it is important that the gap continues to shrink or disappear.

 

He will continue to  play some school middle/high school sports but in terms of other club sports or specialized training - i think we are basically done or getting close to done. 

 

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On 9/17/2020 at 12:23 PM, hangontight said:

Sounds like he enjoys it = all good.  

 

When he dropped soccer and basketball was it to spend more time on golf or was it he just didnt enjoy soccer & basketball ?  

He just didn't enjoy playing at an organized level where they require multiple practices each week.  It would be virtually impossible to juggle all 3 sports both from a time and money perspective.  He did play soccer and basketball at school everyday during school recess pre-covid.  

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I think the athlete (son or daughter) needs to make that decision since it is the life they will lead and could resent you "forcing" them in one direction. In order to be successful in any sport requires a lot of focused practice and they need to make that commitment. I also believe you (the parent) need to also be in their ear "guiding" them to the results of their decisions. In my experience, my two boys had 2 different experiences as my older son played many sports as he was growing but decided on golf and ice hockey as his sports. It worked out well as they are opposite season sports (both expensive!). He ended up choosing ice hockey and played D1 hockey in college but still played golf when he could. After 2 years in college, hockey didn't work out (coaching personalities and issues). He transferred and walked-on (by the skin of his teeth) to the D1 golf team. Worked hard and improved enough to get into top 5 by second year. Graduated and had the opportunity to play a season of pro hockey. My younger son played AAA ice hockey until college but focused on golf. He played D1 golf, #1 player for all 4 years and made it to the nationals. He has now turned pro and setting out on that difficult path but has won a couple lower level pro tournaments. They both had a very good golf team environment in college but did state that they could tell which players had played team sports versus those that just played golf (basically a solo sport). In the end they cannot regret their choices since they made them and we discussed the pros and cons of choices on what they can expect for their future. Team sports generally need someones opinion on whether you are good enough but golf is black and white, the score.

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5 hours ago, hattrick23 said:

I think the athlete (son or daughter) needs to make that decision since it is the life they will lead and could resent you "forcing" them in one direction. In order to be successful in any sport requires a lot of focused practice and they need to make that commitment. I also believe you (the parent) need to also be in their ear "guiding" them to the results of their decisions. In my experience, my two boys had 2 different experiences as my older son played many sports as he was growing but decided on golf and ice hockey as his sports. It worked out well as they are opposite season sports (both expensive!). He ended up choosing ice hockey and played D1 hockey in college but still played golf when he could. After 2 years in college, hockey didn't work out (coaching personalities and issues). He transferred and walked-on (by the skin of his teeth) to the D1 golf team. Worked hard and improved enough to get into top 5 by second year. Graduated and had the opportunity to play a season of pro hockey. My younger son played AAA ice hockey until college but focused on golf. He played D1 golf, #1 player for all 4 years and made it to the nationals. He has now turned pro and setting out on that difficult path but has won a couple lower level pro tournaments. They both had a very good golf team environment in college but did state that they could tell which players had played team sports versus those that just played golf (basically a solo sport). In the end they cannot regret their choices since they made them and we discussed the pros and cons of choices on what they can expect for their future. Team sports generally need someones opinion on whether you are good enough but golf is black and white, the score.

Thank you for sharing the success of your sons with us--they are obviously talented kids.  I feel for all the hockey parents out there--the travel and expenses are no joke.  One of my good friends just sent his daughter to a D1 gymnastics program, and his son was playing junior hockey and HS hockey concurrently through her development.  He would be in a tournament in Colorado somewhere, while his wife would be at a huge meet somewhere  1500 miles away--or vice versa--on weekends and he would travel for work all week.  My man was burning both ends and that mad CREAM.

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I'm nearly 68 years old now and have been golfing since 16. None of my 3 kids played golf during their school years, but we played on the weekends, and i made sure they had fun with it...but none wanted to play it in school, and that's okay. I have 3 grandkids now, with the oldest girl playing golf in Jr. High, and now High School. She lettered in 4 sports in her Freshman year, but golf was always the top choice for her. As a Junior now, she only golfs and swims, but has to miss some swim meets, with the permission of her swim coach, to make her golf meets. Participating in multiple sports has helped her physically become better, which helps her golf better. My grand daughter in Jr. High is the real athlete of the group, excelling in softball and basketball. But she has no desire to play golf, other than to have fun with me, as she drives the golf cart. When she swings my driver it just sounds different from others, sounds special. She could be very good. But i wont push her into golf, like her Dad is trying hard to. Golf is not everyone's cup of tea. I just enjoy her company when she does tag along. The youngest of the 3, my grandson, likes to join me on the course. His Dad is already talking about Prep Tour events for him next year, which i think will push him away from golf. The one thing i have stressed to my grandkids is to have fun with it. And that golf is something that they can do with Grandpa going forward (my days of football and basketball with them are rapidly dwindling, haha. ) I would let any child play what interests them during their school years, and they will gravitate towards what they like the most. Dont force any specialization on them or they may just give it up entirely.

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On 10/12/2020 at 3:52 PM, JimStone said:

I'm nearly 68 years old now and have been golfing since 16. None of my 3 kids played golf during their school years, but we played on the weekends, and i made sure they had fun with it...but none wanted to play it in school, and that's okay. I have 3 grandkids now,

That was beautiful!  Kids love driving the cart with grandpa.  Even my daughter at 15 on the goofy days still loves being a that little 9 yo kid inside.  We went golfing for my birthday (just her and I) she got to drive the cart.  The way she drives I thought for sure a few times it was going to be my last day.

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2 hours ago, Bizzle80 said:

Read DRIVE by David Epstein. 

 

great book talking about specializing...not just in sports. in short...don't.

Whenever I think about specialization on the fringes of sports, I think about chess and poker.

 

For chess, I think of that scene in searching for Bobby Fischer where Kingsley's character talks about how sad this schizo-acting grandmaster is, as the guy gets excited about the prospect of capturing a pawn. 

 

For poker, I actually lived that one for a bit.  Poker players who specialize at non-flop games (games other than Omaha or Texas Hold 'Em) are pretty much forced to chase action across the country unless they live in L.A., A.C., or driving distance to Foxwoods.  Ever since online action dried up for non-nosebleed stakes (especially this year with COVID) stud and split-pot games players are screwed if they can't adapt their games to playing NLHE or PLO... not that the life of a poker pro who does play all the games is glamorous, though, but that's a different thread.

 

If Dewey Tomko would only write a book...

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3 hours ago, Bizzle80 said:

Read DRIVE by David Epstein. 

 

great book talking about specializing...not just in sports. in short...don't.

 

 

Nice TED talk on it. https://davidepstein.com/reviews/daniel-h-pink-bestselling-author-of-when-and-drive-4/

 

 

If it goes right, it's a slice. If it goes left, it's a hook. If it goes straight, it's a miracle.

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On 9/16/2020 at 9:16 AM, ConcernedBoutCOVID said:

what age and why?

 

For youngsters age 10 to 18 it's never a good idea to "specialize" in any one sport. Playing multiple sports helps develop various muscles, helps the athlete avoid repetitive motion injuries,  improves balance, keeps the mind open and nimble, prevents burn out in any one sport etc...

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Srixon F65 3-wood

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Mizuno MP63 5 thru 9-iron

Cleveland RTX 48-52-56-64 wedges

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9 hours ago, wildcatden said:

 

Good TED talk

 

13 hours ago, Bizzle80 said:

Read DRIVE by David Epstein. 

 

great book talking about specializing...not just in sports. in short...don't.

 

So Epstein (I think the book is "Range") actually seems to say at 6:12 in the TED talk that for golf there is advantage in early specialization because it's a "Kind" learning environment

 

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Oops. Yes RANGE not Drive. Read the book, more depth on how many negative factors there are for kids in early specialization in sport or music. You can gain advantage early from specialization as a kind learning environment, but long run it flips. 

 

Tiger is 100% exception. Almost all the elite athletes at every sport did not specialize until later - they talk examples in the book. We just don’t hear about as much because it’s not as sexy to hear a kid played 7 sports as it is to hear a kid was specialized and a “prodigy”.

 

Early specialization is also showing massive youth injury rates now that it’s being studied. Basketball is closely studying this now - aau intensity levels are resulting in significantly higher injury levels among young collegiate and HS level players. 

 

I would imagine hundreds of hours pounding golf balls would have some negative effects for young golfers bodies as well. I’ve got my kid playing soccer and learning Jiu jitsu as well. Was about to start hoops, then covid messed that up.  

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3 hours ago, Bizzle80 said:

Oops. Yes RANGE not Drive. Read the book, more depth on how many negative factors there are for kids in early specialization in sport or music. You can gain advantage early from specialization as a kind learning environment, but long run it flips. 

 

Tiger is 100% exception. Almost all the elite athletes at every sport did not specialize until later - they talk examples in the book. We just don’t hear about as much because it’s not as sexy to hear a kid played 7 sports as it is to hear a kid was specialized and a “prodigy”.

 

Early specialization is also showing massive youth injury rates now that it’s being studied. Basketball is closely studying this now - aau intensity levels are resulting in significantly higher injury levels among young collegiate and HS level players. 

 

I would imagine hundreds of hours pounding golf balls would have some negative effects for young golfers bodies as well. I’ve got my kid playing soccer and learning Jiu jitsu as well. Was about to start hoops, then covid messed that up.  

Tiger was a CIF champ in cross country in HS IIRC.  
 

what most seem to miss here is there are levels.  Almost all my top students “specialized” by 14.  But they still play pickup basketball, backyard football and plenty of other athletic activities outside of golf. But they aren’t playing organized sports other than golf once they get to high school 

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Single sport specialization in kids? Never. I still play adult hockey at 49 and have played since a toddler. Of all the guys I still see out there, it is always the ones who never made hockey their only sport. I don't know a single guy who went hockey only at a young age that continued past whatever top level they made it to, be it high school, juniors, college, or even the bus leagues.

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15 hours ago, iteachgolf said:

Tiger was a CIF champ in cross country in HS IIRC.  
 

what most seem to miss here is there are levels.  Almost all my top students “specialized” by 14.  But they still play pickup basketball, backyard football and plenty of other athletic activities outside of golf. But they aren’t playing organized sports other than golf once they get to high school 

 

That is the key playing other sports if fine but there just not organized and as serious about it.   Most kids pick the sport they like and are best at and keep doing it. Doesn't mean they are playing other things.

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15 hours ago, chippa13 said:

Single sport specialization in kids? Never. I still play adult hockey at 49 and have played since a toddler. Of all the guys I still see out there, it is always the ones who never made hockey their only sport. I don't know a single guy who went hockey only at a young age that continued past whatever top level they made it to, be it high school, juniors, college, or even the bus leagues.

Growing up in an area that turned out Modano, LaFontaine and Iafrate, I grew up with a solid handful of kids who chased their hockey dreams across the Great Lakes region as their only sport.  None of them ended up making it past NCAA-level, with the exception of Jim Storm (who played just 84 NHL games).  The male Finns from my area didn't really mess with the other team sports in spite of having the natural ability to do so.

 

For the serious hockey players who did play multiple sports, they were usually very good at other sports because of their superior hand-eye coordination and speed.  In HS, one of our best basketball players quit after his sophomore year to concentrate on travel hockey (ended up playing D1), and he was a complete stud athlete.  Like many of the best hockey players in my HS, his travel hockey schedule was too important and crazy to play for the HS team.

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This topic comes up often, and there are a number of studies on it.  Specialization at a young age statistically and physically is limiting to a child's growth and the potential.  There is a lot of anecdotal evidence on both sides of this, Tiger/Marinovich vs Bo Jackson/Deion.

Personally, I don't think a kid should ever specialize in a sport purposely.  As a child ages they will gravitate toward one sport vs the others, but generally the decision is either made by the coach (getting cut), or their friends who stop playing.

Golf is a physical motion, and regardless of the applicability of one motion to another in sport, the kinesthetic awareness which many ignore is still being tuned.  A specialized golfer may be asked to gain a feel during the swing but will be unable to, whereas a multi-sport player will be able to draw on past experience to incorporate it into the swing.

Ultimately, a kid has almost no shot to make it professionally, so why would a parent ever limit a child's exposure to other opportunities?

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4 hours ago, Petethreeput said:

This topic comes up often, and there are a number of studies on it.  Specialization at a young age statistically and physically is limiting to a child's growth and the potential.  There is a lot of anecdotal evidence on both sides of this, Tiger/Marinovich vs Bo Jackson/Deion.

Personally, I don't think a kid should ever specialize in a sport purposely.  As a child ages they will gravitate toward one sport vs the others, but generally the decision is either made by the coach (getting cut), or their friends who stop playing.

Golf is a physical motion, and regardless of the applicability of one motion to another in sport, the kinesthetic awareness which many ignore is still being tuned.  A specialized golfer may be asked to gain a feel during the swing but will be unable to, whereas a multi-sport player will be able to draw on past experience to incorporate it into the swing.

Ultimately, a kid has almost no shot to make it professionally, so why would a parent ever limit a child's exposure to other opportunities?

 

Exactly. Dont take kids sports too seriously... 

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On 10/23/2020 at 4:05 PM, Bizzle80 said:

 

Exactly. Dont take kids sports too seriously... 

 

On 10/23/2020 at 4:14 PM, Medson said:

I'll second this. Recently, I was reading a post on the Internet. Essentially, it says don't let your (adult) happiness tie to kid's success. I thought it was very profound. 

While I agree wholeheartedly, I also acknowledge that this is easier said than done, especially with the expansion of youth sports and the amount of an adult's free time (and money) that is spent taking kids to and watching their sports.  

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On 10/25/2020 at 8:38 AM, Noles said:

 

While I agree wholeheartedly, I also acknowledge that this is easier said than done, especially with the expansion of youth sports and the amount of an adult's free time (and money) that is spent taking kids to and watching their sports.  

 

No doubt! its so hard to remove my desire for my daughter to do well, with her desire or care to. she's having fun, so I need to make sure my energy reflects that. WAY harder done then said...

 

 

 

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On 10/22/2020 at 4:30 PM, Medson said:

I think most of us recognize the benefits of multi sports. Hence, my question is more tactical. 

 

Golf is already a big time sink. How do we budget time for the 2nd sports? I assume assigning my 7yo for an-hour basketball wouldn't make her a multi sports athlete. 

My kids are a little older (middle and high school) and between just golf and school and being a normal kid (having a life) they have almost no time for "other sports"

 

COVID also really put a lot of their other activities (not just sports) on hold, so they've kind of already specialized in golf out of necessity

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23 hours ago, ConcernedBoutCOVID said:

My kids are a little older (middle and high school) and between just golf and school and being a normal kid (having a life) they have almost no time for "other sports"

 

COVID also really put a lot of their other activities (not just sports) on hold, so they've kind of already specialized in golf out of necessity

In my experience, kids make their own choices.  I have two kids, both well out of high school.  The older kid realized he loved to play the game (varsity starter for a couple of years), but hated the competition, quit playing and took up guitar.  My younger child wasn't nearly as good, the writing was on the wall, so they chose a separate route to athletics as well.  True specialization is internal.  In my experience, any external push toward an activity might garner immediate results, but over time, if the kid isn't into it, then the parent has wasted their time AND limited the child's experiences.

For example, say I am a wonderkid golfer but don't like the pace, the people, or the acceptance of the bad shot.  If my parents had made me play golf, I definitely would have improved, but I wouldn't have stuck with it once I was out from under their influence.  I also wouldn't have had the opportunity to play my chosen sport in college, so in my eyes, this outside influence would have been a double loss.

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