Experts, and especially parents, should be careful that their child develops all the components of the "fitness" before it is included in a specialized sports program ie. water polo. A growing number of countries in the world are developing long-term systems sports development in which the first priority plays an indispensable role phases in which the basic movement skills are developed and then building basic water polo skills.
These phases aim development of the so-called sports literacy. Sports literacy only to a lesser extent should be developed by organized kinesiological activities under the auspices of universal sports kindergartens, universal sports schools or individual sports training in sports clubs.
In these stages, it is especially important active leisure time. With that parents play a key role because children aged from e.g. 2-7 years old have enormous free time. Parents must understand that children of that age must spend a few hours a day in outdoor games and need, despite numerous obligations and tired after working hours, to find time for the kids to satisfy this natural need for movement. Of course, that this is not easy and that is precisely why certain countries are trying with systematic solutions and long-term development programs to provide the support for parents.
Harre (1982) conducted a survey in the former eastern Germany region. In this study, he compared the effects of early and late specialization in sports. He found that early specialization results in a rapid increase in skills that is reaching the maximum at about 15 or 16 years. However, many athletes who are early specializing, early quit the sport (already around 18), and a large number had recorded injuries due to forced adaptation of the bodies.
Furthermore, with the early specialized athletes it was spotted instability and inconsistency in their performance at the competition. On the other hand, athletes that were late specialized were characterized by a later development of skills (reached the maximum after 18 years), long sports career, little injuries and stability of performance in competitions.
Similar negative effects of early specialization can be seen in numerous sports in which there are very small percentages of cadet and junior champions that keeps the top level of performance in the senior competition. Another negative consequence of early specialization and the early selection is potentially giving up the sport of gifted but "biologically immature" children.
Therefore, in the detection processes, identification and selection of children, we should always take into account biological, not just the chronological age of a child. It's also important to monitor the reaction of children to the training stimulus. Choosing a gifted child is not possible with an only one procedure. Instead, we need to monitor the progress of children in training for a certain amount of time (at least a few months, and preferably several years).
In water polo early specialization can be a consequence of a bad financial situation that makes the best young players in the world go to richer clubs. For the same reason some athletes interrupt career because they are forced to get a job. As a result, senior teams remain vacant and they are filled with juniors, and sometimes even cadets.
Sometimes coaches can be blamed for the occurrence of the early specialization in the younger age groups in clubs that as a primary goal have set the success in the competitions of the younger ages group, not the long-term development of young athletes with the aim of achieving the best results later in life.