Teens and Sports: The 10,000 Hour Rule?

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Some swear by the ?10,000 hour rule? meaning it literally takes 10,000 hours of practice! Others say too much play can actually hurt your chances of success. (KFSN)

What does it take to make it in sports? Some swear by the "10,000 hour rule" meaning it literally takes 10,000 hours of practice! Others say too much play can actually hurt your chances of success.

With every kick, with every pass, Lily Truong is one step closer to her Olympic dreams.

Lily Truong, a Clearwater Chargers soccer player told Ivanhoe, "I started when I was six and then started club when I was about 12."

Teammate Ashley Thomas is right there with her. Along with weekly practices and games, she also does private training.

Thomas told Ivanhoe, "The more you put in to it, the more you get out of it."

Broken bones, muscle cramps and fractures haven't stopped these girls. They are serious about their sport and Coach Erin Morse says they have to be.

"If you are not putting in the work, someone else is and they're probably getting better than what you are," Coach Morse told Ivanhoe.

The "10,000 hour rule" of sports, which requires 10,000 hours to become a success isn't a long shot for these girls.

"I think 10,000 hours would be easy if you really, really love the game," Coach Morse told Ivanhoe.

But Sports Illustrated's David Epstein says the "10,000 hour rule" could damage performance and health.

Epstein, author of "The Sports Gene" told Ivanhoe, "We're sort of pushing athletes, to first of all to pick one sport, to specialize in one sport and then to train in a way that's more appropriate for adults and professionals."

Epstein's research showed youth are experiencing adult-style injuries. These injuries are 36% more likely in wealthy kids. Also, playing the same sport for eight months can increase the risk. Experts say "sports sampling" until at least age 12 produces the best athletes.

Epstein told Ivanhoe, "If you are learning in too professional a style, being sort of explicitly told what to do, in doing just the same thing, you are going to inhibit your ultimate athletic development."

Still, Lily and the rest of these girls are passionate about putting in the time, and they hope their hard work pays off!

Epstein says another problem he found was that youth baseball players should be throwing 80 pitches every five days. However, they were actually throwing 80 pitches every two days because they were in multiple leagues and the leagues didn't communicate with each other.

By the way, the "10,000 hour rule" came from author Malcolm Gladwell. He reported that 10,000 hours of practice from violin to basketball can lead to expertise. The concept was first discussed by Anders Ericsson at the University of Colorado in a 1993 paper.


Research Summary

BACKGROUND: The ability to learn sports skills develops during the preteen and teenage years and continues through early adulthood and beyond. Even many adults who were active as teenagers are realizing that they can still perfect their skills, add new ones, and perform sports at very high levels. Yet, the pre-adolescent and adolescent years encompass the most blurring acceleration of developing and refining sports skills, physical and chemical maturation, and emotional growth. There is also the added bonus of being able to enhance areas of expertise with more devoted training.
(Source: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/sports/pages/Teens-and-Sports.aspx)

SPORTS AND INJURIES: A growing emphasis on performance and specialization has invaded many youth sports. Efforts to corral children into highly focused sports programs often arise from good intentions, yet research suggests that kids who specialize in a single sport when they're young risk injury and burnout, but don't improve their odds of attaining an elite sports career. In most cases, giving kids more time for unstructured play and a chance to sample a wide array of athletic pursuits provides a better recipe for success. The push to start children on focused training programs stems in part from the idea that practice distinguishes elites from the rest, a notion that was popularized as the "10,000 hour rule".

(Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/too-much-practice-and-specialization-can-hurt-instead-of-help-child-athletes/2014/06/16/7e6ba03c-f0cc-11e3-9ebc-2ee6f81ed217_story.html)

LOOKING AHEAD: David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, a book that examines sports performance, found a wide range in the amount of practice that athletes require to reach the top. Kids who have completed many hours of concentrated training by age 12 or 13 may start to lose interest. Studies show that as specialization increases, satisfaction often drops, and that puts kids at risk of burnout. Epstein's research shows youth are experiencing adult-style injuries, and playing the same sport for 8 months can increase the risk for injury. He recommends sport sampling until at least age 12.
(Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/too-much-practice-and-specialization-can-hurt-instead-of-help-child-athletes/2014/06/16/7e6ba03c-f0cc-11e3-9ebc-2ee6f81ed217_story.html)
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