How are the next generation of athletes affected by it? The definition of specializes is to concentrate ones efforts in a special activity, field, or practice. Basically this means a hockey player plays and practices just hockey, baseball players only play baseball, a math student only studies math, etc. If I look back to when I was a kid and learning to play sports, I had the benefit of taking part in any activity I wanted. I played Hockey, Baseball, Tennis, recreational Diving, cycling, neighborhood football, and even later in life Golf. Having played all of these sports my overall athleticism was well rounded. My body was conditioned for a wide variety of activity. My shoulders, knees, hips, elbows, ankles all could withstand the required twisting, torquing, bending, flexing, and any other weird range of motion a sport could come up with.
Today however the emphasis on kids being one sport athletes is stronger than ever. The numbers of ACL and MCL tears among teens and young adults has went through the roof. Why you may ask? I feel that this in fact due to specialization. The young athletes are only spending time on the one sport that they want to perfect. Rather than being a multi sport athlete. In the 80’s College athletes played multiple sports in school. During the 90’s you saw one sport athletes starting to take over at the college level but at the hight school level the multi sport athlete was still strong. As the 90’s closed and we got into the early 2000’s the high school multi sport athlete has all but disappeared as well. What this causes is lower number in all of the sports out there, which in turn puts more emphasis on the athletes being better at the sports. Using hockey as an example, in the off season growing up in Minnesota a lot of the top hockey players were very well rounded soccer players. The sports compliment each other but are worlds apart in the physical requirements needed. The stride used to skating is very different that the running motion used in soccer. In hockey you can twist and turn and change direction without high impact on your joints. In soccer however, to change direction completely you have to stop on a dime, turn and take off the other direction. This puts a different stress on every part of the lower body of the athlete. Overall strengthening the system as a whole. If an athlete only played hockey they would miss out on theses types of strengthening activities that are often over looked when it comes to lowering the injury rates among young athletes.
One of the great thing about CrossFit methodology is that there is no specialization. Each day the movements, the reps, the time, the weight all change. Only when we compare ourselves on a benchmark workout are we repeating an entire workout. What this gives to all the CrossFit athletes out there is a well rounded base of physical preparedness for life. Similar the young athlete of 30 years ago that grew up playing 3 or 4 sports in a year. The training and physical requirements for all of those are different so the athlete received a very broad training program. The body and joints of the athlete were built up and more stable during all ranges of motion and beyond. This allows the athlete to stay healthier, have less injuries, and play more games. Some of the top Division football coaches first question for kids is what other sports they play. Coaches want multi sport athletes on their roster.
In life we can continue to go after a broad level of physical preparedness and not specialize we will then start to realize our own true potential of Fitness. More often than not when someone goes tot he gym they go there to train for something. This mindset comes from a lifetime of specialization. If each day we would just use our workout to become more fit, faster, stronger, with better balance, accuracy, improved cardio endurance, more powerful, more flexible, higher agility, more stamina, and work on an increased level of coordination, whatever event we may have coming up will be a breeze. Overall in life Fitness is about everyday, every movement we make, and our overall well being. If you ask a marathon runner to snatch or clean and jerk there is good chance they will not be very efficient at it, this is because they specialize in running. On the other hand ask the Olympic weightlifter to run a marathon and they would not be very successful at it. Through CrossFit and constantly varied movement a non specialized athlete would be able to hold their in both of the Specialists sports.