There are a bevy of benefits for kids who play multiple sports. These include becoming better overall athletes from engaging in multiple disciplines; learning to be smarter and more creative players; and staying more active and having more fun in athletics. In addition, research shows that the majority of athletes who go on to play college sports come from multi-sport backgrounds.
According to various studies, the benefits of children playing multiple sports far outweigh the disadvantages. For instance, a study from Ohio State University reported that children who specialize and only play one sport early on are more likely to experience physical inactivity as an adult. Another study from Loyola University found that up to 93 percent of athletes who play just one sport are more likely to be injured than those who play several. Furthermore, data also shows that children who specialize in only one sport are more likely to suffer from burnout and lack of enjoyment with that sport over time.
As you can see, there are many benefits to being involved in multiple sports. However, what if your child wants to pick just one to focus on? Here’s a look at how to encourage your children to get involved with multiple sports.
Find Their Passion
When it comes to playing sports at the youth level, the more the merrier. That’s because the more sports your child has the chance to try, the more opportunities he or she has to discover the sport she’s more passionate about and best at. Then, as children grow older and mature, they can decide to stick with one sport.
Participate With Them
Children are impressionable—so if they see you, the parent, passionate about a particular team sport or activity, they’re more likely to try it. Schedule golf lessons with your children, go swimming with them, volunteer to coach a recreational soccer or baseball team, or simply go to the park and shoot hoops with your kids. Not only is this great bonding time, but it can open your child’s eyes to new, fun sporting outlets.
Avoid the Pressure
When your child becomes interested in playing more sports, don’t live vicariously through him or her. Sign your child up for novice leagues, not highly competitive travel leagues, and let him or her get a feel for the game and make mistakes while experimenting with the new sport. Then, at the end of the season, if he or she doesn’t like it and doesn’t wish to continue, support that decision and be proud he or she gave it a shot. Take a low-pressure approach and be glad your child is willing to try new activities.
See What Your Child’s Friends are Doing
Say Billy down the street has started playing hockey and baseball, but your child only wants to play football. Try using friends’ passions as motivation for your child to try new sports—but be careful not to turn this motivation into a peer pressure situation.
Take Them to Games
Chances are, there are college, amateur and/or professional sports teams nearby. Consider taking your child to see a game or two of an unfamiliar sport to pique interest. If your child has fun, chances are he or she will want to give it a try!
As the studies and facts above indicate, playing a variety of sports at an early age opens a child’s doors to many more benefits than disadvantages. As children becomes more mature and grow into their bodies, they can make the decision on whether or not they wants to continue playing multiple sports or focus their time and energy on one—in the meantime, however, the more the merrier.
By Shana Brenner
Shana Brenner is the Marketing Director of CoverSports, an American manufacturer of field covers and protectors, padding, and privacy screens.