ports are supposed to be among the purest and most
enjoyable activities of a child’s life. However, it’s increasingly
become a pressure-packed world where overbearing
parents and the allure of scholarships and stardom take
precedence over fun. Research has shown that playing multiple sports
can help children or teens to not only enjoy themselves more, but that
multiple sports can also help to prevent injuries and keep those children
playing sports for longer.
The Benefits Of Playing
WHYt’s not hard for parents to see the potential
rewards that come from sports. Many parents
sporting activities will pay off in the form of a
scholarship. Unfortunately, the numbers show that
such an outcome is highly unlikely. In fact, fewer
than 3 percent of participants in high school sports
go on to play those sports in college. Furthermore,
only 1 in every 10,000 high school student-athletes
receives a scholarship. In other words, focusing on
only one sport is hardly the payday many parents
Instead of obsessing over one sport, a multisport
approach is often best for everyone. For children,
it gives them a chance to break up the pressure
that comes with playing only one sport. For
example, if a kid is struggling with baseball, he
or she can instead focus on an upcoming hockey
game and begin to boost self-esteem. Parents can
also benefit from the more relaxed approach that
comes with multiple sports. Their child’s softball
games become less about getting to the next
level and more about having fun, which should
be the whole point of youth sports.
&t’s not uncommon for parents and coaches
to discourage a child from playing multiple
sports out of concerns over injuries. A potential
basketball star may be discouraged from
playing football because parents and coaches are
trying to prevent the player from injury. However,
the reality is that this is the exact wrong approach
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics,
kids shouldn’t focus on solely one sport until they’re
at least 10 years old. There are two reasons for this:
FIRST it lets kids try different things and have fun
at each of them until they’re old enough to decide
what they really want.
SECOND and more importantly, playing multiple
sports helps children build their overall athletic
at the skills necessary to play a single sport.
Those enhanced skills will help your children
avoid injuries, particularly those that come as a
result of repetitive actions, like arm injuries with
baseball or softball pitchers.
our child might not actively state that he or she wants to play a
second sport, but it may be something you can suggest under the
right circumstances. If kids are starting to burn out because of their
main sport or if their grades begin to suffer, it may be a sign that
they’re too stressed by their sport of choice. A second sport can make things fun
again; it can give children something to focus on, and provide a new challenge
Sports can and should help kids become more confident, to make them more
active physically and socially, and to teach them positive moral values. If you or
your child decides that his or her current sport is lacking in any of these areas,
enrolling your child in another sport may help re-ignite that spark.
Listening to Children
It’s up to parents to hear and understand their children’s
thoughts and desires, and turn them into action.
positive parental approach to multiple sports can help
children better approach their activities. If you treat
their busy schedule as an obligation as opposed to a
way for children to have fun, that’s exactly how they’ll
approach their sports. However, if you show interest and provide
plenty of encouragement, you’ll help your son or daughter have fun in
every sport he or she plays.
It’s also important to set an example in the way you treat other people.
Encourage every child, not just your own. Congratulate the winners,
even if they’re not on your son or daughter’s team. Don’t yell at the
referee after a bad call, and don’t admonish the coach if your child
doesn’t get as much playing time as you hoped. Setting this type of
example not only makes your child a better athlete, but a better person
— and that’s perhaps the most rewarding part about kids sports.
s a parent, it’s your job to keep your child’s schedule in order.
It’s also your job to make sure your son or daughter gets the
most out of each sport he or she plays. As you drive to practice,
remind your child about the lessons he or she learned in previous
practices and games. Discuss goals he or she established before the season,
and how those goals can be turned into results. Above all else, establish the
fact that these are activities to be enjoyed, and that the ultimate goal is that your
child has a great time at practice.
Preparing Your Child for Practice
S U P P O R T
Giving him or her too many unsolicited pointers
may come across as domineering.
Supporting Your Child
Your child will look to you for support in good times and in bad. Here are some ways you can
help your son or daughter maintain a positive mental approach to sports:
Be honest. If your child didn’t play well, don’t act
like he or she played wonderfully. Put a positive
spin on the situation by making sure your kid
Be aware of any negativity your child may have.
If necessary, engage the coach in a healthy and
Always look for the positives in any performance.
ncouraging your son or daughter to play multiple sports
can have a tremendous trickle-down effect. In addition to
for exercise, they’ll get the chance to reduce any pressure
they feel to excel in their main sport. They’ll also learn skills that can
be directly applied to the other sports they play — resulting in a
better and happier athlete. More than that, though, playing multiple
sports helps kids learn time management, respect for authority
figures and discipline.
All of which will make them better people in the long run.