The Benefits of Playing Multiple Sports At a Young Age

Young boy kicking a soccer ball.
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I had the opportunity to play a lot of different sports growing up and I believe it was instrumental in determining which ones I would gravitate to for the rest of my life.

I believe youth athletes tend to lean toward one sport but shouldn’t limit themselves in this way. You’ll never know if you like a sport until you try it. You will also find there are many benefits to playing multiples sports.

So what are the benefits of playing multiples sports at a young age?

The main benefits of playing multiple sports at a young age are that it reduces the chance of burnouts and it allows kids the opportunity to try new things. Playing multiples sports also reduces the risk of injury and helps kids build confidence in themselves.

Whether you’re a youth player or a parent, it’s really important to understand the reasoning behind playing multiple sports. By reading the rest of this article, we’re confident that you’ll start thinking about which additional sports you can pick up.

Avoid Burnouts

Kids who play only one sport are more susceptible to burnouts than their multi-sport playing peers. This is especially true of players who play one sport year-round.

Playing one sport throughout the year can get old pretty quickly and has the potential of taking the fun out of the game. A couple of months off here and there can go a long way in maintaining the interest of youth players.

This is true of players who play multiple sports as well, who don’t take any breaks in between seasons. With that said, burnout is much more prevalent in athletes who focus on one sport.

The training that comes along with playing one sport year-round can stress a kid out. The amount of work these kids have to put into their craft away from formal practices and games can be overwhelming.

This can result in mental and physical fatigue and lead to kids becoming less interested in playing the sport. Parents and the players themselves should watch for signs of burnout as the lack of enthusiasm toward the sport can carry over into other aspects of their lives.

When the grades of these players start to slip and their social lives take a hit, it may be time to reexamine their priorities.  

Don’t get me wrong, playing one sport is fine if a player truly loves the game and doesn’t have any interest in playing other sports.

But if players are playing one sport with the sole focus of trying to go pro, they’re likely only to face disappointment as the odds of any youth player going pro are statistically very small.

Kids should live in the moment and enjoy what they’re doing without too much forethought into the future.

Importance of Trying New Things

Young baseball player with a helmet on playing in the dirt with his glove.

I believe it’s very important kids try new sports at a young age. Trying new things is a great way for them to learn more about themselves and potentially fall in love with other sports.

You never know what can come from trying new things until you put yourself out there. This is a valuable skill that would serve anybody well in life. An initial fear is common when leaving your comfort zone, but the benefits of doing so are immense.

For kids who are afraid they won’t be good at other sports, it’s worth reminding them that everyone was a complete beginner at their field of expertise at one point or another.

Those who excelled and continue to excel in their fields took a chance with trying something new and decided for one reason or another to stick with it.

Kids shouldn’t put pressure on themselves to be experts right out of the gate. No one becomes an expert overnight. The purpose of playing multiple sports for young athletes is to find out which sports they enjoy playing the most. They won’t know if they dislike a sport until they try it.

This exact thing happened to me. I wasn’t exactly a kid (I was 20) but I decided to go out on a limb and gave hockey a shot. This decision came out of the blue as the number of times I previously skated could be counted on one hand.

The first couple of times I put on the gear were scary but I grew increasingly comfortable each time I went to play.

As a kid, I never thought I would play hockey growing up, but I still find myself playing the sport at 27. My experience with hockey is one of the million examples out there where taking a risk by trying something new paid off.

And in the instances where it doesn’t work out, you at least remove the “what if” factor and the nagging feeling in the back of your mind.

Reduces Risk of Injury

Players who specialize in one sport year-round are at greater risk to injure themselves through the overuse of certain body parts. A great example of this is baseball pitchers who put a ton of strain on their shoulders and elbows by repetitively throwing the ball.

Pitchers are getting Tommy John Surgery on their elbows at a historic rate and a lot of it points back to overuse. The jury remains out on the exact cause of the injury. Many believe it’s caused by certain pitching motions, while others think pitch count is the ultimate factor.

Either way, most experts believe that overthrowing at a young age preludes arm injuries later in life.

Good ways to minimize risks associated with overuse are incorporating one or two rest days into every week and not playing one sport year-round. For kids who play only one sport, periods of rest go a long way in preserving health.

For kids playing multiple sports, the risk of overuse injuries is far less likely due to the different nature of sports. A pitcher in baseball isn’t going to aggravate an arm issue during the off-season when he plays soccer.

Soccer would also be a reprieve in some ways for players coming off football. Even though both sports require lots of running, football is much more physical.

With that said, players should still voice any discomfort they’re experiencing. Something that starts minor has the potential to become major if not monitored.

Become an All-Around Athlete

Playing different sports offers players the opportunity to develop different skills and become all-around athletes. We all know that person who can pick up a new sport and excel at a high level right away. There’s also a lot of crossover from sport-to-sport.

If you’re a stud running back in football, there’s a decent chance you could be a good soccer player due to the sheer amount of running involved.

Sure, you might not be the best soccer player ever, but your speed and footwork will carry over from football.

Even if skills such as catching a ball in baseball or football might not transfer over to soccer, being in good shape and having endurance will benefit you in any sport you play.

I believe players who play multiple sports tend to have a higher floor in terms of skill and are more likely to excel in new sports they pick up.

Builds Confidence

Young boy posing for the camera with a soccer ball.

Playing multiple sports is a great confidence booster for young athletes. Knowing that you can make a positive impact on any team that you play on is great for one’s confidence.

If utilized correctly, this boost of confidence can inspire players to push their limits and accomplish lofty goals. Players should push themselves as much as they can as they don’t get better by going through the motions.

They get better by setting smaller goals along the path to their larger goals. Achieving smaller goals is great for keeping someone motivated and on-track toward their larger goals.

This confidence will also positively impact the rest of your life. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’ll likely have a little pep in your step and generally, be in a greater mood.

It’ll affect your schoolwork, your social life and everything in between. That’s a pretty awesome side effect of playing sports. Players should feel good about continuously getting better and shouldn’t worry too much about winning every game.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

The main drawback of only playing one sport is that players are putting all their eggs into one basket. If a player truly loves the sport they’re playing and doesn’t have any interest in playing other sports, then it’s perfectly okay for them to stick with that one sport.

However, they shouldn’t play only one sport if they think it’s going to increase their odds of going pro. Players who do this are only putting a ton of pressure on themselves.

That pressure has the chance to become unbearable during periods where they’re struggling to perform. And whether they like it or not, they’re going to go through their fair share of slumps.

These players should also keep in mind that most college coaches look for multi-sport athletes out of high school. Colleges coaches look for these athletes for several reasons.

First of all, playing multiple sports shows that you’re able to adjust to new situations and different coaching styles. Multi-sport athletes also have a wide range of skills that tend to allow them to transition to new positions with more ease than their single-sport counterparts.

Playing multiple sports also shows that you have competitive drive and that you embrace the pressure these sports present.

Winning Isn’t the Ultimate Goal

For young players, the main reason to play different sports is to figure out which one(s) they like the best. Winning is fun but it’s more important players start to learn about different sports to determine which one(s) they would like to continue playing.

It doesn’t make sense for a player to commit to one sport if they don’t like some of the aspects of it. Some examples of this are: thinking baseball is too slow, football is too physical or soccer requires too much running.

The goal of these players should be to dip their toes into each sport and see which ones they could see themselves playing going forward.

Meet New People

One of the best things about sports is that it brings together people who may not have crossed paths otherwise. It allows adults to meet people outside of work and it introduces kids to one another that may have had no prior interaction.

When we talk about youth sports, this aspect alone has the power to dramatically affect a player’s life for the better. Players are sure to make more friends in the form of their teammates with the potential of these relationships lasting a lifetime.

Not every teammate will become your best friend but the more time you spend playing sports, the more likely you’ll find people you enjoy being around.

Helps Maintain Interest

Playing one sport, especially if it’s year-round, can get old after a while. This is a big reason why players shouldn’t focus on only one sport growing up. Doing so can rob players of the fun that playing the sport originally offered them.

If you or your child plays a sport year-round and you determine interest in that sport is starting to fade, taking a step back and only playing it part of the year wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I know players who have done this exact thing and fell back in love with the game(s). Mixing it up and doing different things is refreshing and is worth trying if you’re at risk of burning out.

You should never force yourself to play a sport if you don’t enjoy it. Hard times within sports will come and go and your interest may wane a bit but if you truly enjoy playing a sport(s) you shouldn’t give up on it.

You need to make sure you’re playing for yourself and not for someone else’s benefit. I believe it’s important for parents to encourage kids to try many sports at a young age but if those kids don’t enjoy those sports, they shouldn’t be forced to play them.

Challenges Athletes

Playing multiple sports pushes athletes to challenge themselves on and off the field. To become a good multi-sport athlete, players need to develop multi-tasking and time management skills.

Playing multiple sports throughout the year also requires players to take care of themselves year-round and forces them to fall into routines. These routines will help players manage their time more efficiently and allow them to better handle adverse situations throughout their lives.

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Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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