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The Wrong Way to Play Multiple Sports

By Stack MVP, 02/01/20, 10:00AM CST


Playing more than one sport can confer amazing benefits for youngsters. But playing several sports simultaneously with no break is arguably even worse than early specialization. A huge benefit of playing multiple sports is you give your body a break from certain repetitive movements or actions associated with particular sports. But when you just pile sports on top of one another, you only make things worse.

Early sport specialization.

It's a term you almost never heard 15 or 20 years ago. Nowadays, even my grandma knows what it means to "specialize early."

For those not in the loop, the National Strength and Conditioning Association defines early sport specialization as "intense year-round training in a specific sport with the exclusion of other sports at a young age."

Much has been written about the potential detriments of early sport specialization. The anecdotal and empirical evidence that playing multiple sports throughout childhood makes for healthier, happier, more athletic, more well-adjusted kids is mounting.

This increased awareness regarding the potential drawbacks of early specialization has led to a shift where kids who likely would've specialized five or 10 years ago are now being encouraged to compete in multiple sports.

On the surface, this sounds like a good thing. Countless articles have been dedicated to the benefit of competing in multiple sports, and they make compelling arguments.

However, this push for a return to the multi-sport youth athlete has spawned a new phenomenon I find troubling.