With the growth of hyper-competitiveness in youth sports, a big question that has arisen is whether kids should specialize in one sport or play multiple sports. A recent study released by Tracking Football analyzed the 2017 NFL Draft first-round picks and how many sports they played in high school and gives us some data on the topic.
The study found that 30 of the 32 players picked in the first round of the NFL draft were multi-sport athletes in high school. Within that study, 20 of the top 32 NFL draftees played two sports in high school, and 14 of the 32 played three sports in high school. While there were still two draft picks of the 32 in the first round that did not play multiple sports in high school, the data shows that the overwhelming amount of the top football players in the nation picked were well-rounded athletically.
With all the extra resources that are available for athletes such as individual lessons and travel teams, sports have become more competitive even at the youngest age levels. Specializing in a sport can help an athlete understand that sport more in-depth and enhance specific skills. However, the benefits of multiple sports outweigh the advantages of specialization.
When young athletes are exposed to multiple sports, they learn a variety of motor skills and knowledge that they can use and intertwine between the different sports. When younger athletes play multiple sports, it gives them the chance to discover their favorites. Even if a child gets frustrated in a sport in which they aren’t the best, it teaches them the importance of practice and the value of working hard for improvement.
Playing one sport can take a toll on an athlete both mentally and physically. When playing one sport year-round it doesn’t offer an athlete the rest that is available between seasons of different sports. When you are going through the same motions and workouts continuously, it can lead to overuse of muscles and create chronic injury problems.
Playing one sport can be mentally draining as well. It can put a lot of pressure on young athletes and cause a lot of stress from the lofty expectations that come with the continuous involvement and training.
If there are not many choices for different sports leagues or teams to join, playing one sport can mean being on the team with the same people every day and going to the same fields or courts every day. Athletes who begin to play one sport early in their athletic careers often grow tired of being in the same routine continuously for years. Playing different sports gives children the opportunity to meet new friends and teammates and have a change of venue. Burning out from a sport can lead to losing the excitement and interest in sports.
Cross-training allows children to learn different skills and problem-solving techniques from each sport. This knowledge not only helps them be well-rounded on the field, but it also transitions into their lives off the field. Through playing sports, children can develop traits like leadership, self-confidence and a goal-oriented mindset that will continue to help them in their personal lives, at school and even in their careers.
At i9 Sports® we offer multiple sports year-round with age-appropriate instruction for each age level. Click here to find a program in your area!