Benefits Of Kids And Sports
Do you think only letting your child specialize in one sport is the recipe for success? I will tell you why it’s not and a better road to take.
How Do Kids Benefit From Sports?
- Starting sports at a young age, makes exercise a normal part of life. This can carry over into adult hood which results in a healthier adult.
- Sports teach us how to be unselfish. Relying on another, for your team’s success and being happy for them.
- A child will learn that if they want success, they must put in the work to get the results they’re looking for.
- Dealing with pressure is a part of life and there’s always moments of pressure on the playing field.
- Sports will show you at a young age that winning and losing is a part of life.
Not Wise To Specialize-My Thoughts
Are there kids that love just one sport and it’s all they want to do? Absolutely, but is it the norm? Absolutely not! A high percentage of kids quit sports by age 13.
- Coaching for 22 years I’ve seen a lot! I had many wrestlers that received private one on one training every week for years and never even made the starting line up.
- My 11 year old Son’s wrestling workout partner just happens to have a Father that was a National Champ for Penn State. You would think his Son lives, eats, breaths, sleeps wrestling. Wrong! He plays multiple sports and his Father preaches not pushing the kids too hard.
- I can remember good wrestlers that quit by the time they were juniors and seniors who were just simply burned out. These were kids that had a lot of success at the youth level and now a chance to qualify for states.
- I had a wrestler that placed 8th in the state as a Junior and a State champion as a senior. He didn’t even make the starting line up in 8th grade. Went to college on a baseball scholarship.
- A two time state champ that wrestled for me, quit wrestling in college after one season because he said it wasn’t fun anymore.
- The best middle school soccer player that ever played for me, quit sophomore year. I asked him why and he said it wasn’t fun anymore. Part of me wanted to shake him and say who cares if it’s fun! You’re in high school now and you could’ve received a scholarship! Unfortunately it’s already too late.
- I can remember a baseball player that I taught in elementary school and I heard he received a baseball scholarship as a pitcher. He only played baseball. It’s what he loved. Aside from pitching, he was a very average athlete, maybe even below average in most sports. THIS IS NOT THE NORM, but I mention this because there are kids out there like this.
What The Pro’s Think
“First of all, I think every kid is different,” said Mr. Gretzky, a Hall Of Fame player and currently the coach of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes. “Some kids can play every day, all year long, like Gordie Howe – until they made him take his skates off. But that’s a rarity, I really believe that.
“In youth hockey, in most cases, it’s really important for kids to play other sports – whether it’s indoor lacrosse or soccer or baseball. I think what that does is two things. One, each sport helps the other sport. And then I think taking time off in the off-season – that three- or four-month window – really rejuvenates kids so when they come back at the end of August, they’re more excited. They think, ‘All right, hockey’s back, I’m ready to go.’ “
“Single-sport specialization amongst youth today is troubling. Let kids be kids. They’ll become better all-around athletes & have more fun”.
Pr“I think people specialize at an early age and I’m personally not a big fan of that. I have preached to my children that I think you need to play different sports because it develops your brain.” – New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi, a Purchase resident and father of three young athletes.os and Cons of Multi-Sport Athletes
Why Not Specialize?
- One sport helps the other: When an athlete plays multiple sports they can help each other. For example: gymnastics can help in strength for wrestling. Dancing can increase flexibility to avoid injuries. Footwork on the basketball court can improve footwork on the lacrosse field.
- Burning out: Athletes who tend to spend all of their time on one sport frequently experience burnout from doing the same things over and over again. This problem is a major concern of being a specialized athlete because they tend to quit or give up due to boredom or tiredness.
- Overuse Injuries: occur when repeating the same movement over and over.
Note: Yes it’s true that if a child focuses on one sport it can help improve their skills and confidence, but statistics show the odds are against you for making your child stay in only sport.
The pitcher on the baseball field with the same throwing motion over and over.
The football player taking hit after hit from a young age.
A wrestler who shoots over an over causes a lot of wear and tear on the knees.
I’m sure at this point you can think of plenty of scenarios. I know personally as a coach my athletes have so many more injuries or pain than I can remember myself or teammates having when I grew up.
As a parent of four children, 9, 11, 13 and 17 year old and a coach of ages 5-18 years of age children, I can tell you that forcing a child to play one sport is not a recipe for success. The odds are against you to keep your child in one sport and end up with a division I scholarship. Let them try different sports and fall on their face, make mistakes until they find something they love.
In my experience after all these years teaching and coaching, I find that most kids will specialize in one or two sports on their own by the time they reach High School. Don’t feel like it’s too late by high school. Remember if they played multiple sports growing up, they have a great deal of experience and a strong base.
I took 5 of my 14 high school wrestlers to the state championships in Atlantic City last winter of 2018 and 4 of them didn’t take the sport seriously until the last couple years, but they had a strong base from wrestling every winter. Not 12 months out of the year!
There is no wrong or right path to take. The best thing you can do is pay attention to your child and guide them.
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