The Benefits of Being A Multisport Athlete
The Benefits of Being A Multisport Athlete People often ask physiotherapists
whether it is better for young athletes to focus on a single sport or to participate
in many different athletic endeavours. Year-round opportunities for high level
training and competition tempt parents and athletes to focus on a single sport.
Logic suggests that this intense focus perfects skills, increases confidence, and raises an athlete’s profile in the eyes of coaches and officials. Given these perceived benefits, then, why do top-level athletes like Wayne Gretzky and prominent health care professionals advocate against early sport specialization? The answer lays in a growing body of evidence demonstrating
- Reduced Rates of Overuse Injuries: Research reveals increased rates of sports-related overuse injuries with sport specialization. One study showed that single-sport athletes are 70% more likely than multisport peers to suffer an overuse injury. Where a single sport repeatedly stresses specific muscle groups and joints, playing multiple sports targets a broader range of body structures, thereby reducing the likelihood of overuse injury.
- Improved Movement Competency: Participating in many different sports trains the body through multiple movement patterns, improving overall body awareness and movement capacity. This then translates into improved performance in the primary sport.
- Less Burnout: Statistics show increasing rates of burn out for single-sport
specialists. Playing one sport year-round can become boring to young athletes and the pressure to perform can be overwhelming. Participating in a range of physical activities throughout the year can heighten the enjoyment and enthusiasm, ultimately enhancing performance and engagement in the primary sport.
- Better Sportsmanship: When players play different sports they are confronted with different situations. In one sport they may be a star; in another, they may not. This improves the ability of our youth to deal with adversity and enables players to understand team dynamics from different points of view. This can translate into improved team play. Faced with these advantages, most parents would encourage multisport participation, but time and money can present barriers. It is important to remember, however, that not every sport has to be played to a high level. Encourage your hockey player to join the school cross country team during the year and play soccer in the summer. Try a new sport, like water polo. This will
lead to improved performance, enjoyment, and longevity in the primary sport.
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Moncton, NB E1C 1W8
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