In theory, focusing on one sport, whether baseball, soccer, basketball, football, or whatever, makes a lot of sense. After all, practice makes perfect, as they say. However, the opposite tends to be true. Multi-sport athletes tend to be the ones who succeed.
“More often than not, the best athletes in the world are able to distinguish themselves from the pack thanks to a range of motor skills beyond what is typically expected in a given sport,” explained Manchester United Performance Coach Tony Strudwick.
Abby Wambach, member of the United States Women’s National Team and 2015 Women’s World Cup champions, agrees.
“I understand the argument of people being one sport athletes at a young age, but for me and my personality I would get burned out as a young kid playing just one sport,” said Wambach, who credits being a multi-sport athlete as a child and young adult with a lot of her current soccer success.
“Playing basketball had a significant impact on the way I play the game of soccer,” said Wambach “I am a taller player in soccer, in basketball I was a power forward and I would go up and rebound the ball. So learning the timing of your jump, learning the trajectory of the ball coming off the rim, all those things play a massive role.”
Andy Wambach is not the only member of the World Cup champions to play multiple sports growing up. Midfielder Morgan Brian played basketball; Forward Amy Rodriguez swam, played softball, and ran track; Lauren Holiday ran track, played basketball and baseball; Defender Whitney Engen competed in gymnastics, tennis, baseball, softball, swimming, and volleyball; and so on. All in all, the members of the U.S. Women’s National Team played 15 sports competitively while growing up and they all credit these additional sports for their soccer success.
“Having that variety is an awesome thing and I would encourage any young athlete or parent not to restrict themselves,” said Holiday. “Doing different things develops different parts of your body. It can help prevent injuries and definitely help prevent burnout.”
The numbers agree with Holiday. According to a 2013 study of 1,200 young athletes, those who concentrated on a single sport were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than multi-sport athletes. And according to a study conducted by Ohio State, children who specialize in a single sport are more prone to stress and burnout.
So what others sports does your son play?
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