Why Kids Should Play More Than One Sport

Let your kids play different sports while they’re still physically developing.
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Many children concentrate on mastering one sport versus playing a variety of sports, with the approval and sometimes even encouragement of parents. But when kids pick just one sport to play, especially during the elementary and middle school years while their bodies are still growing, they are far more susceptible to injury than if they mix it up.

An easier example to understand is baseball, which many young athletes play year-round. When a child is performing excessive throwing and pitching with no rest break or allowing the body to recover, they’re much more prone to elbow issues and shoulder problems which can result in surgeries like Tommy John surgery, a surgical graft procedure that replaces the ulnar collateral ligament in the medial elbow.

Tyler Brady, physical therapist with OrthoCarolina who also works with UNC Charlotte athletes, says that while it can be tempting to want to mold your child into the next great single-sport superstar, it’s wise to let them play different sports while they’re still physically developing. Here are some of his top reasons why:

  1. Playing multiple sports uses different muscle groups and joints so kids tend to be less likely to be injured, which happens more often when a young body is exposed to one specific force or movement.
  2. Kids that tend to play multiple sports have better gross motor skills. Children who try different games and sports may have better hand eye coordination and better strength and power because they’re practicing a variety of skills. Change also encourages kids to think creatively in different situations and learn to problem solve.
  3. There are psychological benefits to playing different sports. It’s not all physical. Different sports require different roles and will embolden your child to put on his or her thinking cap. Just because a child excels in one sport doesn’t mean they will dominate every sport, and different experiences can teach kids to handle adversity and how to respond to succeeding and failing. They also learn how to be more of a team player in a group setting versus individual sports because they develop critical communication skills and social skills.