There are many benefits that come with being a multi-sport youth athlete. Sometimes these benefits can be overlooked or clouded with questions because of outside factors. The rumors that college coaches only want athletes to focus on one sport, or that there is a greater risk of injury to occur in the sport the athlete is less serious about. It’s very common for a youth athlete to excel in one sport over the others that they are involved in. This doesn’t always mean that it’s time to move on and to focus on that one particular sport just yet.
The following are a list of the many benefits of the involvement of multi-sport youth athletes:
- Make friends in each sport: The relationships and friendships created through sports are what make the sports atmospheres fun. Some of these relationships and friendships last a lifetime. It’s healthy to branch out and meet new people in different sports settings. You’re not going to become BFF’s with all of your teammates, but you will learn to play with them and compete towards a common goal together. When you get older, and you look back on your career, you’re going to remember and cherish the relationships and friendships that you made the most.
- Develop athleticism: Different sports require and demand different body movements and coordination. Have you ever wondered why your parents put you in gymnastics or dance as a kid? It wasn’t to pull out dance picture day photos to have a laugh at your expense when looking at the ridiculous costume you wore. It was probably to help develop your flexibility and coordination at a young age. The Same thing can be said about involvement in other sports. Every sport is going to teach and demand something different from the athlete, whether it’s hand-eye coordination, balance, movement, speed, endurance, agility, etc. The list could go on and on. A lot of what’s learned in one sport can also be beneficial to the other sports an athlete is involved in.
- Learn various roles and expectations: With every sport comes different roles and expectations from the athletes involved. By having athletes participate in different sports, they are not only gaining knowledge about the sport, but they are also learning their role as a teammate and as a player. Athletes are students of the game. They are always learning and trying new things. By playing for multiple coaches, they are also learning what is expected of them, as well as developing skills they will use later in life.
- Staying active and busy keeps kids out of trouble: This benefit couldn’t be truer and there has been research done to help back up this claim. When kids are involved in activities, sport related or not, as well as school, they are less likely to get in trouble. There is only so much energy a young person can maintain. If they wake up in the morning and go right to school, then after school they do homework, then after homework, they go to practice, then practice is followed by more homework, dinner, and sleep. Where is there time for trouble? There isn’t. Staying busy definitely has its benefits, as long as the athlete is getting enough rest.
- Less likely to burn out: You hear about it all the time. “They don’t love the game anymore” or “they are tired of playing”. Burnouts, for those who don’t know, are athletes who drop the sport they are playing because they are, well, “burned out”. By getting young athletes involved in multiple sports, the chance of a burn out in one of the sports is much less. Each sport takes place in a different season. When volleyball or soccer season ends in the fall, basketball and hockey are gearing up for winter, then comes spring softball and track. When the younger athletes are surrendered to one, annual sport, the chance of becoming a burnout increases.
There may come a time one day when the athlete grows and makes the decision to cut down to one sport of focus. This probably won’t happen until the late high school years when the athlete will know their fate in the sport and whether it will continue into their college years. In the meantime, get out there, lace up multiple footwear and have some fun. These are the years that you will never get back and the experiences and memories will last a lifetime.