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The Multi-Sport Athlete: Why Every Kid Should Play More Than One Sport

Being active and playing multiple sports will play an important role in your child’s athletic journey. Participation in multiple sports will make your child a better athlete, lower the risk of overuse injuries, and avoid burnouts. 

In a study completed on NCAA Division 1 Athletes, it was found that 88% of athletes participated in an average of 2 to 3 sports as children and 70% didn’t specialize in a one sport until after age 12. 

Below are three reasons why every child should participate in multiple sports growing up.

Avoid Burnouts 

The three main drivers in kids playing sports are the ability to have fun with friends, the joy of playing a game, and the ability to compete. Too often we see a young athlete burnout because they lose the spark of these three drivers. 

Youth sports aren’t meant to focus on winning and losing, they are designed to develop a love for a game. By taking a break from one sport to play another it gives young athletes the ability to test and develop new skills in a different atmosphere, and gives them a chance to discover what they enjoy about different sports. 

Overuse Injuries

An overuse injury is defined as an injury that occurs from repetitive movements demanded over a period of time. The best way to prevent overuse injuries is simple: Take time off. Now, taking time off does not mean sitting on a couch during the off-season, just moving in different ways. By moving your muscles in different ways and at different angles you will develop muscle groups while giving others the opportunity to get the rest they need. 

Building An All-Around Athlete

Playing multiple sports allows the opportunity to develop as an athlete, not just a football, basketball, baseball, or soccer player. Skills and techniques learned from one sport transfer to another.  

Take football and wrestling for example; Wrestling enhances leverage, balance, flexibility, quickness, and power in ways that are directly transferable to football. In the picture below you can see on the left – Ray Lewis, a Hall of Fame Linebacker, making a tackle. On the right, Jordan Burroughs, an Olympic Gold Medalist completing a double leg tackle. 

Another translation is between basketball and soccer. Two of the greatest passers in NBA History, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, both played soccer growing up and attribute it to helping them see the court better and making smarter plays. Soccer translates to basketball in numerous ways. It teaches you how to effectively move without the ball, passing IQ, and footwork.

Playing multiple sports has social, emotional, medical, and physical benefits. Before you allow your child to play only one sport I encourage you to weigh the numerous benefits playing multiple sports will have on your athlete.

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