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Multi Sport Vs Single Sport Participation For Youth

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

The topic of single sport specialization and multi-sport participation at the youth level is always a hot topic among parents and coaches.

Here are the benefits of both multi sport and single sport participation.

The benefits of early sports specialization for young athletes (Duffek, 2017):

1. Earlier Peak Performance.  For a sport like gymnastics, an athletes’ peak performance is reached in adolescence.

2. Attain “age-group” success.  Specialization may be the best way for athletes to experience “age-group” success. 

3. Join elite clubs with access to top coaches.  By focusing on one sport from a young age, athletes have access to elite clubs and programs that attract top coaches.

The benefits of being a multi-sport athlete (Duffek, 2017):

1. Experience long-term success.  While it might sound counterintuitive, multi-sport athletes tend to experience longer-term success over their one-sport peers. 

2. Limits overuse injuries.  Overuse injuries occur when an athlete repeats the same motion over and over again.  Playing multiple sports gives athletes time to heal and develop different muscle groups, tendons, and ligaments.

3. Less pressure, less burnout.  Burnout is a real problem for athletes who specialize too early.  Multi-sport athletes haven’t had that intense emphasis on one sport. Therefore, they are more likely to retain their love of the game. 

4. Accumulate cross-sport skills.  Multisport athletes gain different kinds of skills that they can apply from one sport to the next.

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