When it comes time to choose a sport to play, your child may be overwhelmed with the many choices. They may have many reasons for considering different sports from their friends playing on a certain team to family history of playing a certain sport to some sports costing less than others to play.
And some kids and parents may feel like they must choose one sport to focus on in order to have a better chance at succeeding in the sport and/or qualifying for college scholarships later on down the road. However, experts suggest that playing more than one sport could actually be the key to your child’s success.
One sport or more?
According to medical experts, there are multiple reasons why specializing in one sport may be a harmful choice for your child. Besides physical risks like increasing the risk of overuse injuries or decreasing overall athletic development, specializing in one sport year-round can also lead to social isolation or burnout.
This could lead to the child giving up sports all together so they can have a break physically and mentally. And any injuries they endure could impact proper growth of bones.
Benefits of multiple sports
According to a study of Division I athletes, 88-percent participated in two to three sports as a child, with most not specializing in one sport until the age of 12. This shows that waiting to specialize is not going to hurt a child’s chance of excelling in a sport, but can help them by:
- Giving kids a chance to decide what sport they enjoy playing
- Reducing the chance of injury by avoiding overtraining or overuse
- Helping kids develop a diverse set of skills they can apply to the sport they eventually choose to specialize in
- Exposing children to different environments, coaching styles, and teammates
Kids sports tips
When it comes time to choose the sport that is right for your child, there are many things to take into consideration. You must consider how much time you will need to invest in the sport going to games and practice, how much it will cost to play the sport (fees, uniforms, etc.), as well as what skills and coordination the sport will entail.
Younger children under the age of five are not going to have motor skills as strong as older kids, so some sports that may be more appropriate for them may include:
These sports do require skill, but they are flexible in the fact that you can find programs for these sports that do not involve a lot of time or structure. Also, these starter sports can help build self-control and self-confidence in the child, which are useful skills for when they decide to take up other activities.
Once a child reaches elementary school age between 5 and 12 years old, they will start to have a better grasp of their interests. Not only that, but they will be more aware of their abilities and parents can help them find activities that best fit those skills as well as their personality. Sports activities appropriate for this age group includes:
If your child is more introverted, then individual sports may be better suited for them instead of team sports. Therefore, you might want to consider signing them up for martial arts, golf, tennis, track and field, or horseback riding, to name a few.
When it comes to choosing a sport to play, your child doesn’t have to choose just one that they will play for the rest of their life. Just as their bodies are growing, their interests will likely evolve over time too. Therefore, playing multiple sports can help them figure out what they enjoy and what they are good at.
Also, playing multiple sports can help prevent injury and protect their growing bodies as well as helping them develop a diverse set of skills both physically, mentally, and emotionally that will benefit them in both sports and their life for years to come.