With winter sport done and dusted, it's a great time to relax unwind, before prepping for an exciting fresh challenge in a summer code.

Well actually that's the way it used to be, not such the case anymore.

Sadly, we are hearing more and more stories of kids specialising early, and playing their winter code year-round. While having a fun backyard hit or kick around during the summer is perfect, committing to a full summer season of your favourite winter code isn't all its cracked up to be.

These days some are getting the message, that they need to be playing all year - why?

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Why are they being forced to pick one over the other? What the heck is going on?

Just let the kid have fun, fun is how they will become their best anyway. The tricky bit is when the kid says they love it, which they do, and that they want to roll on into a summer stint within weeks of their winter season finishing.

Of course, a young 10- or 12-year old will be keen now to play year round, but will they be keen when they are 18-20 after they have had year after year of a continuous code - highly unlikely, and even if they are, they won't have had the opportunity to develop a broader set of skills and life development they would have gained from more diversity.

There was a recent story of a keen 10-year-old cricketer very upset at being dragged from his beloved cricket to attend a compulsory "elite" soccer squad training. Not that there should be any such thing as elite when it comes to 10-year-olds, but apparently there is?

The keen and well-meaning soccer coach might rightlycite examples of top players that have specialised from a young age, but the percentage that actually make it all the way through to top professional ranks is minuscule.

For most the dream won't even be close to being realised, and for many the fruitless pursuit of making a professional team can result in serious burn out, and even mental health challenges.

The pathway can start seriously young, even the great European soccer giant Real Madrid academy opportunities in Australia, which Hawke's Bay littlies have even been invited to.
FOMO is a real challenge for parents, with so much available these days, it is a real modern day issue, the tough decisions around what to enrol your kids in.

We are told variety and trying everything is great for their development, but with so much on, we can easily see the kids doing way too much, and being left with no time for their own play and exploration.

Developing imagination and creativity in an athlete is as important as the physical side, so they need that space too. Sometimes, less is more.