I never thought that this would be a hot topic right now, but here we are.
Like I've stated a thousand times, I am the oldest of five kids. I know for a fact, my parents were SO TIRED because all they ever did was cart us around in their taxis taking us from practice to practice, going from soccer tournament to softball practice... from football games to soccer games... they did it all. And I am pretty sure my parents only let me start driving so I could be the new taxi and do the pick-ups and drop-offs. But they did it because they knew the importance of being a multi-sport athlete and what it would do for me as an adult.
Being a multi-sport athlete is so important to their mental, physical and emotional well-being. Starting your child out in multiple sports to see what fits is so CRUCIAL and I can't stress that enough. I realize that this requires a lot of time, money and effort on your end... but if being a great athlete is your goal, then being in multiple sports benefits them in more ways than one.
I am going to try to give you the best advice I can while comparing it to my own life. I have never talked this much about my personal life like I have in my last couple of blogs, but I realize it helps a lot of people and makes them feel like they're not alone. That's why I do these posts, to help people. So many parents tell me that they watch YouTube and they Google things and I think it is wonderful how hard you work for your kids, and I want to be a source for you.
I would not be where I am now if it was not for the multiple sports I played. I started off playing softball at four and then started playing soccer shortly after. All my fast-twitch muscles which are used for sprinting were made during my soccer years. (https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/fast-twitch-slow-twitch-whats-difference-matter/ ) I played volleyball for a short time, mostly for fun, but still, it helped! I played basketball too... was terrible.... SO basically it was softball and soccer for years until I was a sophomore in high school. I 100% would not be where I am if I picked one at an earlier age. To explain a little bit, soccer allowed me to move FAST and my brain had to move even faster. Because my body movements were so fast, I had no problem translating that into moving fast on the mound. I was raised to play hard and play fast... I think if I picked one sport earlier than 15 I would have injured myself more than I already have, which is a scary thought. I've been asked the question, "Do you think playing multiple sports is the reason you hurt yourself later on in your career?" My answer is no. I hurt myself later in my career because I was overworked (partially by my choice) once I hit college.
At 19 I tore my rotator cuff, at 21 I slipped a few discs, sprained my SI joint, dislocated my pelvis, (thank goodness for our athletic trainer). And at 22 I tore my labrum. Not factoring in bicep tendinitis because every softball player gets that... but all that happened because I played a lot and I wasn't the best about taking care of myself... not because I played two sports as my body was developing. Pitching is so hard on the body...
Okay, back to WHY.
3 Reasons to Encourage Playing More than one sport:
1) Fewer overuse INJURIES. Repeating the same action hundreds of times a week (counting practices & games) will cause stress on a growing body. I am the perfect example... as I stated above. So then the rebuttal is "Stress on muscles & tendons gets better with rest right?" Yeah, it does.... until the sport is played YEAR ROUND and the only rest you get is a couple of days for Thanksgiving and a week for Christmas. Travel ball has gotten worse as our sport has gotten more competitive. Coaches forget that our kids need rest. And If we're talking about the where the most common softball injuries happen: elbow tendinitis, bicep tendinitis, rotator-cuff, labrum, neck strain, spinal strain, and as of lately, a lot of ACL and Meniscus tears. Multiple sports will reduce the risk of injury. I promise you. Some of it might still happen by chance, but playing more than one sport will make their muscles & tendons stronger so they can handle the impact that sports create.
2) BURNOUT: Experiencing burnout is 100% normal. You're going to get an "I don't want to go to practice today"... but when you hear an "I hate this I don't want to do it anymore".... listen up. Introducing more than one sport in their lives increases the chances that their mind will be focused on a couple of things rather than "Why am I CONSTANTLY rolling over every ball I hit". They will have multiple outlets for releasing energy and feelings and have an easier time getting to bed (aka happy parents)!
3) LEADER vs FOLLOWER: As we meet people throughout our life we are put in situations where we become the Leader of the Follower. Leaders are those who command a type of presence through their actions and or words. We oftentimes mistake the word "leader" for being a type of "boss" but in fact, there are many types of leaders. Followers are also given a negative stigma, in that they are soft-spoken and passive...but in reality, followers can take on many roles. Introverts and extroverts alike can be both leaders and followers. Playing more than one sport opens your child's eyes to what kind of person they are and what they can be as an adult. That's where we get the term "captain"... it teaches them to be relentless in their work and regardless of what role they take... they will learn something. Typically at a young age, the best players are named Captain (not a good reason but it just happens this way). If your child is GREAT at one sport... they learn to lead others, take on the role of teaching and being comfortable speaking their mind. If your child is not so great at the other sport they play, they learn to be great listeners. Playing more than one sport, being good at one and okay at the other... it teaches them empathy, vocalization, patience, and kindness. You'll be surprised how a child's personality and characteristics change when they only interact with ONE group of kids their age their whole childhood. Remember I am saying this happens to SOME kids... not all.
I have met so many kids and every single one of them has a different story. A kind heart & soul far surpass anything else. Remember we are creating better people than we are athletes.
This post does not define who they are or who they will become!