The pendulum of opinions, expert and not, of the number of sports a child should play each year has swung during the last four decades.
In the 1970s, kids played three sports a year because their sport was only offered one season a year. Then in the 1990s, coaches preached and parents believed that the only chance an athlete had to be very successful – meaning a chance for a college scholarship – in any given sport was to play that sport and that sport alone.
And now here we are in the year 2020, and one of the focuses during the telecast of the NFL Draft in recent years has been touting that a very high percentage of those players selected played at least two sports in high school. I can tell you firsthand, that’s helped keep our boys motivated to not focus on one sport.
And why should kids play more than one sport? Having fun playing a second sport is reason enough to do it, but there are also other benefits to taking a break from a favorite sport.
For many kids, that second sport is even more enjoyable than their “main” sport because they don’t feel the pressure. Kids pressure themselves when they’re the star of a team and like any of us can attest to, being under pressure isn’t always fun regardless of how you perform. Often the second sport is one they aren’t as talented in – but that’s not always the case either – and they enjoy being part of the team instead of the star of the team.
Playing a second sport also gives your body a break. Although running is part of many sports, just switching the surface can help save wear and tear. There is a lot less impact playing lacrosse or soccer on grass than basketball or tennis on a harder surface. Even today’s turf fields are often as soft if not softer than “real grass.”
Usually, regardless of what the sports are that kids play, the skills honed in one transfer in some fashion to the other and vice-versa. When my son played lacrosse – his third sport at the time – the offensive techniques of picking and constantly being in motion on offense carried over into basketball season. Likewise, his zone defensive skills learned on the court helped him in his middie position on the lacrosse field.
We’ve now captured three reasons for kids to play more than one sport: physical, mental/emotional and strategical.