As the youth sports landscape continues to grow and evolve, it’s important to point out some ways to make sure athletes get the most out of their experiences participating in athletics. With so many sport specific businesses popping up, teaching kids the finer points and strategies of individual sports, it’s important to take a more macro view of our kids playing in sports. We thought it would be beneficial to outline some of the benefits of having athletes participate in several sports as opposed to focusing on one.
- Reduction of Injury– As kids continue to grow they can be prone to injuries if they’re repeating the same movements and stress on their bodies. Proper rest can certainly help avoid those injuries. By participating in several different sports, athletes have the ability to transition to using different parts of their body for a more complete workout over the course of the year. Studies show that playing multiple sports leads to better muscle, motor and skill development. It promotes general athleticism, balance, speed and agility.
- Limited Chance of Burnout-It’s been widely studied that athletes & families who spend so much time focusing on one sport risk tiring of the sport all together. Specializing raises expectations, the costs for parents for private training and the pressure on young athletes. Having a variety of experiences keeps things interesting, the dullness of a single sport goes away, and so does that pressure.
- Chance to Meet Different Kids-Lacrosse friends will be different from tennis friends, who will be different from the kids in your gymnastics class. Introducing kids to different sports allows them to share experiences and make memories with a wide range of kids and families. It helps them expand their social circle and their opportunities for interaction, especially later in life.
- Different Roles Are Key-Being a second string player on the lacrosse team is a different experience than being the starting point guard on the basketball team. It’s an opportunity to widen their experiences, both socially and developmentally. These athletes are typically more competitive, better teammates, and more coachable.
- Diversification Pays Off in the Long Run-Playing multiple sports gives athletes the best opportunity to plays as long as possible. Only playing baseball until 17 and then getting Tommy John surgery will be career ending most likely, certainly in terms of getting a scholarship or being a high round draft pick. However, that same athlete competing in basketball and swimming over the years might have some chances remaining to attend a college they normally wouldn’t be able to attend or open doors that might not have been there had they only played one sport.
The reality is that so few athletes go on to have college careers and a fraction of those lucky athletes have the ability to earn a living playing a sport. So by playing multiple sports, staying active, meeting a variety of people, and learning how to take on different roles in competitive situations, multi sport athletes will at the very least be better prepared to take on the challenges life with throw their way after their days playing sports is done!
Go out and play something you enjoy even if you’re not going Pro!