Five Benefits of Being a Multi-sport Athlete

There is a prevalent thought that youth coaches are trying to get athletes to specialize in one sport at an early age rather than being multi-sport athletes. It may not be fair to assume this.

Strength and conditioning specialist, Jesse Haines, with Sanford POWER in Sioux Falls, SDSo much data proves how beneficial it is for young athletes to participate in multiple sports during the course of a year. The negative effects of sport specialization, both athletically and socially, have been written about a number of times.

Multi-sport Athletes in the NFL

Examples of success stories have occurred during the past two NFL Drafts: 29 of 32 (2018) first round draftees were multi-sport athletes in high school.  This number was 30 of 32 in 2017.

These “other sports” football players divided their time in included baseball, basketball, track and field, tennis, wrestling and lacrosse.

Multi-sport Athletes in College Football

Former Ohio State Head Football Coach Urban Meyer recently stated that he prefers recruiting athletes who are involved in other sports. One reason for this is that during the evaluation process, coaches like to see athletes with their own eyes, not just on film. This means coaches will go out and see athletes compete during other seasons.

Often a recruiter feels that other sports give athletes an edge from a competitive standpoint.

Why Multi-sport Athletes Have Advantages

Positives associated with youth playing multiple sports:

  1. 1. Multi-sport athletes have a much higher chance of being active as adults.
  2. A variety of movements and activities can limit the occurrence of overuse injuries associated with just one sport or skill.
  3. Playing multiple sports gives athletes time to heal and develop different muscle groups and movement patterns.
  4. Multi-sport athletes haven’t had that intense emphasis on one sport and are more likely to retain their love of the game.
  5. Different types of skills can be applied from one sport to the next. This enhances hand-eye coordination, balance, endurance, explosion, communication and agility.

Of course there are always disadvantages. One main disadvantage of being a multi-sport athlete is the fact that time is limited. When there is little or no offseason, there are limited days for skill development for a specific sport.

Each athlete needs to weigh the pros and cons of playing multiple sports.

By Jesse Haines, CSCS