Nowadays, it seems like many coaches are telling athletes to focus on one sport from a very early age. Specialization in one sport will allow them to develop their skills at a quicker place and play the game at a higher level. Growing up, I was one of those kids. After third grade, my parents let me quit soccer to focus on basketball. It was the only sport I loved playing and I never looked back. I was never into soccer, never had a desire to play baseball, and football never appealed to me much when I was younger. I fell in love with the game. I was obsessed with it. Among my peers, I noticed that I was the exception, not the norm and set out to build my whole life around this game. However, looking back, playing multiple sports would have made me a better basketball player.
Here are five reasons why playing multiple sports can take your game to the Next Level!
1. Specialization leads to a greater chance of injury. When athletes complete the same motion over and over again, muscles and ligaments wear down over time. The alarming rise of reconstructive elbow surgery and Tommy John surgery are two examples of this. Athletes spend years learning how to properly play a sport. Regardless of how good of a coach they have, they often spend years practicing poor form shooting a basketball, throwing a baseball, or tackling in football because their body has not matured to the point where they understand how or can safely and efficiently use it. Specialization multiplies the amount of poor reps before the athlete is mature enough to do it correctly.
2. Many athletic movements transfer from sport to sport. So many of the movements and footwork in one sport are taught in other sports. The footwork taught to box out, post up, and create space in basketball transfers really well to football players, especially offensive linemen and tight ends. Future NFL hall of famers, Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, are perfect examples of this. Gates was an undrafted free agent after playing basketball at Kent State and Gonzalez played football and basketball at CAL. As a basketball coach, I loved working with soccer players because the footwork, both offensively and defensively, is very similar and they understand court/field spacing at a high level. The right coach can take the skills learned in one sport and adapt them to another to quicken the learning curve.
3. Multi-sport athletes have a higher athletic I.Q. Athletes playing multiple sports year-round throw themselves into all kinds of scenarios and receive multiple types of coaching. They learn multiple positions across multiple sports and tend to understand their role on a team better because, chances are, they're not a star in every sport. This also builds resiliency as they encounter the new challenges associated with switching sports and learning new positions. In turn, they are forced to increase their focus and attention spans while learning how to compete in different ways.
4. Burnout is less likely to occur. Check out my last blog on burning out. It is a common problem and once a child loses their love for a game, it is near impossible to get it back. Playing multiple sports introduces new drills, games, teammates, and coaches. In a world where child attention spans are at an all-time low, playing multiple sports throughout the year keeps their minds fresh and engaged.
5. Multi-sport athletes learn to be better teammates and make more friends. Since I only played basketball, I only knew kids that were on my basketball team or were in my class. When kids are playing multiple sports, they meet other kids, develop new interests, and learn to interact with more people on a regular basis. They understand how important it is not only to have good teammates, but also be one.
At Next Level Sports Camp, our whole camp model is built around giving athletes the opportunity to play multiple sports while learning from the best local coaches. Next Level is guaranteed fun and we can’t wait to see you there. Register today here!