Cross Training with Multiple Sports: Beneficial or Harmful for Athletes?
Many young athletes don’t know if they should train for one specific sport or play multiple sports throughout the year. This is especially relevant for parents trying to decide what sports they should sign their kids up for. They often hear that their kids have to specialize at one sport to be talented, but more often than not this isn’t the case. So what’s better for young athletes: specializing in one sport or cross training with other sports?
There are many benefits to playing multiple sports:
1Developing a different set of physical skills
- For example, players develop skills such as hand-eye coordination with baseball and agility with soccer. Together, they create a more well-rounded athlete
Developing a different set of mental skills
- Each sport comes with its own unique atmosphere and dynamic. While hockey and football are very much adrenaline-fueled and fast-paced, sports such as baseball are slower paced and more strategy based. Being exposed to both environments develops more mentally strong athletes.
2Reducing the risk of injury
- Research has shown that athletes who specialize in one sport are at a much higher risk of lower extremity injury than athletes who play and train in multiple sports.
Other benefits to playing multiple sports
- Minimizes burnout of playing just one sport
- Can try different sports to see which ones they like more
There are also benefits with sticking to one sport:
- You can perfect your skills. For example, in baseball as a pitcher, you’ll have more time to throw and work on pitch grips.
- There are fewer distractions, allowing athletes to be more focused on one main goal.
- Reduces risk of getting injuries from other sports. If you’re a hockey player, you don’t have to worry about tearing your ACL in football.
A combination of both specialization and cross-training is best. It is beneficial to play many sports when younger, but eventually it becomes necessary to choose your favorite, especially if playing sports in college.
1 “Multi-Sport Athletes vs. Single Sport Athletes – The Pros and Cons”, Chelsea Eytel
2 “New Study Reveals Whether Multi-Sport or Single-Sport Athletes Have a Better Chance For Success”, Brandon Hall
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