Should Your Child Only Play Football?
The simple answer is ‘No’. While it’s recommended even for pro athletes to play different sports sometimes, it is even more important for children to try their hand at multiple sports growing up. Unfortunately today, it is misguided parents and coaches who are pushing children to specialise in specific sports early for the fear of falling behind ‘the competition’. While there may be some positive results in the short-term, there is enough evidence to suggest that children who play different sports tend to have a better balance to their lives and, wait for it, even end up being better sportspersons once they do specialise.
In the 2015 draft selections for USA’s top American football league, the NFL, 87% of the draft picks reported being multi-sport athletes. Although these young men focused on American football, almost all of them participated in different sports like volleyball, basketball, swimming and more. When asked why, they said playing a variety of sports when they were younger helped them to retain their motivation, refresh their minds, apply their minds creatively, build confidence and improve overall fitness.
Here, we’ll take a look at 4 reasons why our children will benefit from playing different sports:
1. Avoid injuries
Playing just one sport during a child’s physical development results in overuse of the same muscle groups. This means a higher chance of injuries due to training only for a specific sport. On the other hand, if a child plays football and volleyball, it will activate different sets of muscles and joints, and create better physical balance.
2. Create a solid athletic foundation
A swimmer who plays basketball or a hockey player who does gymnastics will gradually develop a well-rounded athletic foundation. By playing multiple sports, children develop strength, speed, agility, balance, flexibility and a host of other attributes that are transferrable across disciplines.
3. Experience different roles & peer groups
While your child may be an ace badminton player, it is possible that she will be a substitute on the football team. This experience will help her to appreciate the skill that it takes to be a good footballer. Additionally, she will benefit from playing a team sport that tests each person’s ability to put the collective ahead of self. Interacting with diverse groups of people with different capabilities helps children develop vital social skills beyond just obvious sporting ability.
4. Develop creativity & retain motivation
Participating in a variety of sports enables children to bring fresh perspectives to each activity. It helps them to retain their motivation and hunger to improve while generating the ability to form new connections between activities. Early specialisation in one sport, on the other hand, can lead to mental burnout and, worse still, kill the love for the sport.
To sum up…
It’s important to remember that only a very tiny fraction of children go on to play professional sport. Given this, we would do well to let our kids enjoy a wide variety of sporting experiences based on their preferences. Even if they aren’t very good at sport, it is essential that children learn to play simply for the love of the game.
Don’t take our word for it though. Here’s the G.O.A.T. tennis player Roger Federer talking about the importance of playing multiple sports as a kid.