Yankees’ Joe Girardi: Sport specialization is concerning

September 21, 2016 / BaseballCoaching
Sport specialization among young athletes has many coaches concerned, and Joe Girardi is one of them.

Photo: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

The New York Yankees manager spoke with The Journal News and, among other things, talked about the rise in specialization in youth sports. Girardi played high school baseball and football growing up in Peoria, Illinois, and his three children also play multiple sports.

From the article:

The owner of four World Series rings as a player and coach believes young athletes should diversify rather than specialize.

“I think people specialize at an early age and I’m personally not a big fan of that,” he said. “I have preached to my children that I think you need to play different sports because it develops your brain. I think it develops different parts of your body and your muscles.”

“What I get most concerned about is a child who plays a sport 11 months — the same sport 11 months in a year. I think, physically, their body needs a rest from that sport and, mentally, their body needs a rest from that sport. I tell people, I was a grown man in the best shape of my life at 25 years old and I didn’t pick up a baseball for two or three months out of the year because I knew my body needed a rest. And I see kids throwing 11 months out of the year and it concerns me because they’re not fully physically developed. Their growth plates aren’t closed, and that concerns me.”

Girardi went on to talk about the importance of rest and offered his own advice to parents — let kids have fun.

Fellow MLB manager Joe Maddon has also spoken out against specialization, and many college recruiters have said they would rather find athletes who play multiple sports at the high school level. Still, kids continue to specialize with the idea that focusing on one sport improves their chances of being great at it and earning a scholarship.

You can read the rest of Girardi’s interview with The Journal News here.

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