By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University
- This week I’d like to direct you to a Wall Street Journal article about Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry and his multi-sport childhood.
- Delaying single sport specialization is a model we’ve written about many times, and here is yet another example of how it can work successfully
I write this post from the San Francisco Bay Area, where we’re pretty spoiled these days with our professional sports teams. After last night’s game 7 win against OKC, the Warriors are in the NBA finals and the Sharks are in the NHL finals. And coming off Memorial Day I’m going to provide a short post highlighting a Wall Street Journal article titled: The Stephen Curry Approach To Youth Sports. I’d encourage parents and coaches to have a look.
The essence of the article is that Curry- now arguably the best player in the NBA- spent a lot of time as an adolescent and teenager playing sports other than basketball. It is well documented that coming out of high school Curry was not heavily recruited by any of the traditional major basketball powers and ended up at Davidson.
Sure it can be argued that he has genetics on his side, as his father Dell was a long time NBA player, and sure it can be stated that Steph spent a lot of time around NBA players as a kid. Undoubtedly that had a major influence in his game. But still, genetics and environment doesn’t mean you’ll end up as a professional athlete.
Here’s some food for thought from the article: “Curry is already the most popular NBA player among kids. His approval ratings these days are close to ice cream’s. There was once a time when children wanted to be like Michael Jordan. Now they want to be Curry. But following his example doesn’t mean they have to grow up as the best shooter who ever lived. It may be as simple as dabbling in other sports when they’re still young.
That’s because Curry is also the poster child for a saner approach to youth athletics. In an age of hyper-specialization, Curry has reached the pinnacle of his sport by doing the exact opposite. He played basketball, but he also played some baseball, football, soccer and basically everything else in a sports buffet. What worked for Curry, experts say, could work for everyone.”
I wholeheartedly second that opinion. Multi-sport participation up until around age 14 makes a lot of sense from the body development and physiology standpoint, and probably psychologically too. It also seems to have some magical effect in reducing the chances for overuse injury.
What’s the worst that could happen from that approach? You’ll likely end up with a healthier and happier kid. When they start showing real interest in single sport focus, perhaps age 14 or so or at least age 12, then go for it with their sport of choice.