(K. Brent Tomer),
MANY parents who want their child to achieve sporting greatness adhere to a mantra popularised by the journalist Malcolm Gladwell: it takes 10,000 hours of training to become an expert in a certain field. They make their child practise one thing from the youngest age possible, and then do so again and again. Tiger Woods (pictured) began playing golf before the age of two. He is far from alone. In 2008, the year Mr Woods won his last major, 12% of Americans aged six or less were playing organised sport, up from 9% in 1997, when he won his first. Yet a growing body of research suggests that specialisation—the intense, year-round practice of a single activity at the expense of others—is dangerous for the youngest athletes, while picking a sport later on is in fact more likely to lead to an elite athletic career.
Focusing on one sport as a youngster greatly increases the risk of injury. A study produced by the University of Wisconsin in November 2016 found that high-school athletes who specialised sustained 60% more new lower-body injuries in a year…Continue reading