I have seen it way too many times, and everytime I do, I get more discouraged.

Why parents….why do you encourage your kids to specialize with a certain sport at such a young age?

I have seen in during my years of basketball, where an athlete would play their high school season, then go straight to AAU all summer, then work with a basketball “trainer” in the fall. This is the same athlete who used to play soccer in the fall, and softball in the spring. Now these athletes have given all of that us to focus on just one sport.

I will say that if an athlete is a senior in high school and had already decided which sport they will play in college, then by all means if you choose to do so, focus on getting your game to the next level by putting in some extra work.

And yes…you can still manage your time to enjoy other sports while still training in your primary sport all year around. But don’t give up on your other sports. Be a kid and enjoy the chance to participate in various activities.

I have even heard of middle school parents forcing their kids to give up all sports except for the one the parents think they will shine in. Middle school? Come on, that is ludicrous to take that away from your child.

Three of the biggest things that playing multiple sports can prevent are: burnout, overuse injury and focus.

Burnout often happens in a child no matter how much they love a sport. Playing a sport 365 days a year is a recipe for disaster. I have seen kids walk away from a sport once they get to high school because quite frankly, they are tired of playing it all the time.

Also overuse injury is something that can also happen if you use the same muscle every day. While it’s good for muscle memory, it can be bad for a childs’ overall heatlh.

Finally, if a kid gets too comfortable with their game, it becomes stale no matter how much “training” you do. Taking time off in the summer for a nice two-week vacation, or deciding to play a fall sport to take you mind off of your winter or spring sport will help you come back hungrier and more focused.

Next, if you are being recruited or have even narrowed your schools down for college, ask your coach about playing other sports while you are still in high school. You may be surprised how quickly they are going to encourage you to do so. If you have dreams of playing in college, trust me you will not forget how to play your primary sport if you are involved in a secondary sport.

Plus playing in multiple sports helps a child grow during their development. It allows them to succeed at some of them, and allows them to fail at others. By no means should you force your child to play multiple sports, but don’t discourage it either.