It’s a myth, Dr. Charles A. Popkin, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Columbia University Medical Center said, that athletes who got college athletic scholarships or became professionals in most sports began specializing at early ages. “Early sports specialization is uncommon among N.C.A.A. Division 1 athletes for most team sports,” he reported.
His suggestions to parents: “Expose your children to as many activities as possible and support what they like. But if they’re doing more hours of a sport a week than their age in years, they’re overdoing it.
“A couple of months of the year, encourage them to do something else. If they play soccer, they could switch off to tennis; if they play hockey, they could try the track team. Cross-training helps their bodies and can keep them from burning out.”