Both the Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada Long Term Player Development (LTPD) Models recommend allowing young athletes to participate in multiple sports rather than specializing at an early age. Participating in multiple sports allows young athletes to learn a variety of motor skills, hone them efficiently and increase their physical literacy. It teaches them diverse movement patterns, varied skill sets and cognitive understanding of game sense.
Encouraging your child to participate in a variety of athletic activities decreases the risk of burnout due to stress, decreased motivation and lack of enjoyment. A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialized early in a single sport led to higher rates of adult physical inactivity. Those who commit to one sport at a young age are often the first to quit, and suffer a lifetime of consequences. Athletes in the study who specialized were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports.
Watch Hockey Canada CEO, Tom Renney, sit down with Jason deVos, director of development with Canada Soccer, to discuss how small-area games have been benefiting the development of young athletes.
Youth Hockey Players & The Importance Of Multi-Sport Participation - New York Rangers (June 2015)
Specialization: What Does It Really Mean? - Active for Life (May 2015)
Sports Specialization in Young Athletes: Evidence-Based Recommendations - Sports Health