As we move into the summer off season many athletes and parents wonder what the best off-season formula is for success in the following season. A recent phenomenon that is occurring is athletes wanting to “specialize, specialize, specialize”. I am a strong believer that it is important for athletes to develop skills specific to their sport to achieve their goals, however I also believe in the benefits of young athletes participating in multiple sports.
Recent research outlines the many benefits of young athletes participating in multiple sports. A few of the benefits of multi-sport participation as indicated by Smith (2016) are outlined below:
1. Fewer overuse injuries – Studies have shown that multi-sport participation leads to better muscle, motor, and skill development. There are many cases present where young athletes are experiencing “grown up sport injuries” such as ACL injuries for example.
2. Less emotional burnout – Kids who are too focused on one sport risk becoming emotionally tired of the sport all together. Extreme focus on one sport can put an exceptional amount of pressure on a young athlete and be detrimental to their success.
3. Exposure to different kids and roles – Allowing children to play multiple sports allows them to interact with different groups of people and experience new roles. Children can interact with an entirely new group of peers and expand their social circle as a whole. Additionally, by being put into different roles it allows athletes to practice flexibility and be exposed to different situations, increasing the ability to be a multi-dimensional and coachable athlete.
It is important for children to experience new roles and become “well rounded” athletes. Multi-sport participation can have major benefits for young hockey players as Active For Life (2014) outlines that “Hockey Canada recommends that players engage in other activities – such as lacrosse, soccer, and even gymnastics – to help them improve in hockey”.
As the weather improves in the upcoming summer months I recommend allowing your young athletes to experiment with other sports. One key to this is that the sport does not necessarily have to be organized. Allowing a young athlete to experiment with a sport in a non-structured environment provides the opportunity for creativity and enjoyment.
Thank you for checking out my blog, as always if you have any questions or would like information on upcoming camps please feel free to contact Tanya @ 780-933-6814 or firstname.lastname@example.org.