ST. PETERSBURG — Six years ago in his bestselling book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized what's known as the "10,000 hour rule" — the idea that it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill.
Young athletes, their coaches and parents took that to heart — dangerously so, sports writer David Epstein argues.
Epstein, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and author of The Sports Gene, will be in St. Petersburg on Saturday to talk about why he calls 10,000 "the most dangerous number in sports."
He said it has led to "hyperspecialization" — homing in on one sport for at least eight months of the year — and that's neither healthy nor effective for most young people. He said some youth baseball leagues, for instance, have boys pitching so often that they are setting themselves up to need the elbow surgery named for Major League pitcher Tommy John earlier in life. "That used to be an adult injury," he said.
Epstein is the keynote speaker Saturday at "Keeping Youth Athletes in the Game," BayCare's annual sports medicine conference, which focuses this year on the health of middle and high school athletes.
BayCare's sports medicine experts will offer sessions throughout the day to give parents, athletic trainers, youth coaches and health professionals information aimed at keeping young athletes healthy. Topics include preventing overuse injuries; female athletes and eating disorders; managing asthma in child athletes; and gaining a competitive edge through proper nutrition. Experts will also explore the threat of concussion in young athletes.
The conference runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hilton St. Petersburg, Carillon Park, 950 Lake Carillon Drive.
Registration fees are $35 for students, $40 for adults, and $65 for physicians and health care professionals seeking continuing education credits. To register or for more information, visit SportsMedConference.org or call (727) 953-9192.