"The heightened pressure on child athletes to be, essentially, adult athletes has fostered an epidemic of hyperspecialization that is both dangerous and counterproductive.
One New York City soccer club proudly advertises its development pipeline for kids under age 6, known as U6. The coach-picked stars, “poised for elite level soccer,” graduate to the U7 “pre-travel” program. Parents, visions of scholarships dancing in their heads, enable this by paying for private coaching and year-round travel.
Children are playing sports in too structured a manner too early in life on adult-size fields — i.e., too large for optimal skill development — and spending too much time in one sport. It can lead to serious injuries and, a growing body of sports science shows, a lesser ultimate level of athletic success.
We should urge kids to avoid hyperspecialization and instead sample a variety of sports through at least age 12."
Great article on youth sport from David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, an essential read for anyone interested in coaching or development in sport.
Taking climbing and as youth climbing develops, a good reminder is this excellent article on high performance youth climbers from 'Training for Climbing' author, Eric Horst:
"A final and most important coaching matter involves climbing frequency and the degree of dedication a youngster should make to climbing. Understandably, many youths fall in love with climbing to the point that they would like to make it their one and only recreational/sporting activity. It’s my opinion, however, that single-sport specialization should be discouraged before the age of thirteen. It’s a fact that today’s talented youths can come to climb at a national-class level (or even better), while at the same participating—and perhaps excelling—in one or two other sports and school, as well! Need proof? Consider 19-year-old superstar, Sasha DiGuilian. In high school Sasha ran cross country and track, climbed a few evenings per week at the gym, and aced her classes at school—and, oh yeah, she also climbed 5.13a at age eleven and 5.14a at age sixteen!"