Why Your Kids Should Play Only One Sport...Each Season

My family is wrapping up one of the busiest seasons we've had. The summer time should be a time to unwind and relax, but for us, I have to admit, it has been a grind. And most of it has been self-induced. It's probably the challenge that plagues most sports loving families. Multiple kids playing multiple sports. We did this all in the same season, instead of playing one sport...each season.

Now, don't get me wrong, while it was a grind I still have thoroughly enjoyed everything, and so have our kids. But we did reach a point where I think our entire family got burned out. 

Youth sports opportunities are plentiful

One of the big topics in today's youth sports environment is that of year-round sports. Kids today, unlike the 80s when I was playing youth sports, have the opportunity to play one sport pretty much year-round.

One reason why it's discussed so much, is there are people who believe it can cause unnecessary wear and tear on a young athlete's body. While it could also lead them to burn out.

The other argument is the opportunity to play year-round allows them to develop and improve in their sport tremendously. Some believe the earlier the better it is for kids to specialize or focus on one sport. Others believe youth athletes should play multiple sports. I understand both arguments. But I want to present a different stance.

Choose one or risk burnout

Your kids should play only one sport...at a time. The reason we pretty much burned out this summer is because we allowed, or chose to have our kids play multiple sports all at once. And we have three kids. Add to the mix that I'm one of the coaches for almost all their teams, and you have a perfect storm for family burnout.

So, whether you choose to have your kids focus on one particular sport year-round, or you would like them to play multiple sports, don't have them play more than one at the same time. Our spring and summer had us going back and forth between two baseball teams (I coached both), a basketball team (I coached), a track team, in addition to other non-sports related extracurricular activities.

A lesson learned

Sunday through Saturday, each week for several weeks, we had some type of activity to attend, sometimes more than one on a given night. One of the biggest problems was that although it was tough on us, I loved every minute of being  out there watching, coaching, and playing with my kids.  And they did as well.

But in hindsight, I realize this isn't sustainable year after year. So we've learned, and I'm sharing our lesson with you. No matter how much you enjoy sports, no matter how much your kids and family enjoy sports, set some boundaries. Set boundaries to prevent burn out and allow your family to enjoy youth sports for many years to come.

How many sports teams or leagues do you allow your kids to participate in at one time?

Photo credit: Jackie Bledsoe

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