Some people say that too much of a good thing is bad for you. Is there any truth to that? Can you have too much of a good thing? Young athletes certainly can. Kids in this generation are much different in that fact that society has set such a high bar for young athletes to excel in athletics. Organized sports have come so far in the last 20 years that kids are now forced to choose between playing multiple sports or being committed to one.
What do Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer have in common other than excellence, superior athletic performance and multiple championships? They all played more than one sport growing up. Tom Brady was a baseball player growing up as well as a football player. Brady was a solid catcher and he was an 18th round draft choice by the Montreal Expos in the 1995 draft. He opted to go to the University of Michigan and the rest is history. Bryant and Federer both played soccer growing up. They are both avid soccer fans to this day.
Today kids as early as 10 years old are deciding to choose between sports and it doesn’t seem right. By choosing to only play one sport, young athletes are exposing themselves to a list of potential problems in the future.
According to SAFE KIDS USA, children ages 4 to 13 account for nearly 40% of all sports related injuries. Kids are being pushed by coaches and parents to focus on one sport in hopes of the child becoming a college and or professional athlete and it is creating a higher chance of injury from playing the same sport all year around. The pounding and constant use of the same muscles can take a serious toll on the body.
New York Giants defensive back Terrell Thomas is not a fan of playing only one sport as a kid and thinks that the multiple sport route is the way to go. “You would get burnt out just playing one” said Thomas. “You have to play multiple I am a big advocate of playing as many sports as you can. I wish I could have played baseball. I might not be playing football if I had the opportunity to play baseball knowing the money that they make. I think all young athletes should play multiple sports. I had to beg this kid to come to my football camp. We had signups and this kid said he was a basketball player. I told him I was a basketball player too (growing up).” Thomas knows a thing or two about injuries. He has separated his shoulder and has tore his right ACL three times while playing football. The wear and tear on a players body can be grueling.
Becoming “burnt out” as Thomas said is a common occurrence for one sport athletes at a young age. There is no off-season anymore. You play for your school then your travel or AAU team and before you know it its summer league and back to playing for the school. That’s a whole year’s worth of one sport over and over again. How do you find out if you like something else or are good at something else? There isn’t time.
Playing multiple sports allows kids to develop other skills. Each sport offers something different to teach athletes.
Terrell Thomas credits his mixed sports upbringing that he believes helped him get to where he is today. “Without a doubt all those things helped me become the player that I am. Playing basketball and running track helped me develop foot speed, quickness, how to work hard. Track practices are hard. Football teaches you this, basketball teaches you that.” Thomas played football, basketball and ran track growing up and skills from all three have helped him become an NFL player.
With all the injuries to NFL players you can’t help but wonder if they are just natural injuries or the product of bodies being exposed to the same game for many years. I’m not suggesting that NFL players play basketball in the off-season or pick up a bat and go hitting in a batting cage but an argument can be made that too much of one sport over time is bad for the body, especially a contact sport like football. So let you kids do what they want to do and encourage them to play multiple sports and physical activities. It’s better for the body and helps kid discover new sports they might not have known and have fun playing them. Now that’s a good thing you can never have too much of.
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