Why kids should play multiple sports

Here are at least four reasons kids should play multiple sports.

BLACKFOOT – In an era of more and more athletes being told that they need to specialize in one sport and only one sport, there is evidence that has surfaced that may support the exact opposite.

This is especially true for high school athletes in Bingham County.

The influence of club sports and some of the those activities coordinators telling the athletes that the only way to get exposure is by participating in the club sport because that is where the coaches will be may be partially true, but the Division I coaches who handle the sports and activities that most athletes want to play and at the schools that are the most prestigious are now coming out against just doing one sport and for a number of reasons.

One of the most recognized coaches in America is Urban Meyer, who recently resigned from Ohio State University and previously coached at the University of Florida and the University of Utah.

“I never recruit an athlete who didn’t play at least two sports in high school and preferably three,” Meyer said. “If an athlete is only concentrating on one sport, he is not developing his muscles equally and that will lead to injuries that we can’t fix and he will be lost to us. Multiple sports creates a better and broader group of muscles being developed that supports everything the athlete wants to do.”

There are other dangers as well. Most kids are told at too early of an age to begin to concentrate on only one sport. Younger athletes are often playing every sport they can because they haven’t yet found out which is the sport that they are best suited for. Pressure is now being placed on athletes as early as the eighth grade and decisions are being made before the athlete has grown and matured enough to even know what sport they should be concentrating on.

Kids who are 14 have no clue what they are going to be like physically when they are 18 or 19 and much closer to what they will be like as an adult. There are numerous kids who make choices to play basketball because of the pressure from some club coach who fails to grow to an “expected” height and tops out at 5’6”. Where are these club basketball coaches then the athlete ends being a 5’6”, 90 mph Division I baseball pitcher?

Never make a decision like that until the athlete reaches 17 or older because a lot times, you just don’t know what they will be like physically.

Playing multiple sports helps you become a more well-rounded athlete and will enhance your athletic ability by competing in other sports. Playing basketball can often enhance your ability to play baseball by improving your lateral movement and building up muscles that will help you prevent injuries in later years. A lot of track athletes have found that running and learning how to properly run enhances what you can do on other athletic fields.

The more you isolate the sport that you choose to play can also cause burnout. Playing a sport year-round will hurt you in more ways than one and it usually begins with becoming disenchanted with the sport that you choose. There is no break and the more that you play that sport, the more it becomes a boring and tedious thing. Getting a break as you move from one season to another gives your muscles a chance to recuperate and allows other muscles to kick in and take on the brunt of the workouts and exposure of playing. Everyone should play multiple sports and at least give every sport a chance to be the one that you excel in.

Other reasons that kids should play multiple sports are that it’s what 88 percent of what top athletes do. A survey of all NCAA athletes stated that they played multiple sports as kids and that is what has propelled them to become not only athletes at the NCAA level, but scholarship athletes at that level and has given them a chance to progress and become a professional athlete as well.

It has been proven that athletes who play multiple sports have few serious injuries than those who play or specialize in only one sport. A recent survey shows that among NCAA athletes, 46 percent of those who were specializing in or only playing one sport suffered more serious injuries than those who don’t. Only 24 percent of athletes who participated in multiple sports suffered the same type of serious injuries as those who specialized in a single sport.

NCAA athletes who played multiple sports in high school had fewer regrets than those who limited themselves to a single sport or who specialized in a single sport. Over 43 percent of NCAA athletes and players wished that they had spent more time in other sports when growing up than those who were isolated into a single sport in high school.

Studies also have found that those athletes with high specialization at a young age carried an increased risk of stress and anxiety, social isolation, and burnout, ultimately forcing them to leave the sport earlier.

More and more reports and surveys are surfacing each year that signal the same type of action contrary to what many people are telling us on a day to day basis.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the more sports an athlete participates in, the better it is for the athlete, from the point of receiving an NCAA scholarship, to having fewer serious injuries and to enhancing the possibility of playing additional sports at a higher level.

Parents and coaches need to be made aware to research all of the possibilities for their high school athletes and educating their athletes as to their best options.