Should My Child Play Multiple Sports?

Paige Geis Bradshaw

I never had much of a “thing” when I was a child. You know, that one “thing” most kids discover is theirs long before they reach a double-digit age?

While friends and classmates pliéd in ballet slippers as soon as they could walk—or dribbled basketballs across the court before they could talk—I was tapping my toes, smacking volleyballs, and hitting home runs. (Sometimes, all within the same year!)

Dabbling in different activities allowed me to learn what I was good at, what I wasn’t good at, and what I enjoyed doing. It also taught me critical skills—like gross motor skills—that were integral to my overall development.

So, if you’re asking yourself, “should my child play multiple sports?” The answer is, “yes!” Let’s learn more about the benefits of playing multiple sports.

Benefits of Playing Multiple Sports

Juggling multiple sports might sound like a handful at first, especially for a child who’s just beginning to break into the sports sphere. Plus, considering the “champion messaging” that encourages children to pinpoint their special skills as soon as possible, diversifying your kiddo’s palette for play might seem detrimental.

However, research has shown that “sport sampling”—children participating in a range of sports and activities—helps them far more than it hurts them. “Sport sampling” offers kids more athletic options, transfers important skills to other areas of their lives, and keeps kids interested in sports for the long haul.

Here are even more benefits of playing multiple sports:

Keeps Burnout at Bay

No one is exempt from feelings of burnout. Adults can pick it up after working in the same place for too long. Kids often feel it when the school year is wrapping up and about to end.

In addition to school, sports can cause kids to feel burned out, too. When a single sport consumes a child’s free time, that sport can quickly become routine, monotonous, and exhausting.

Switching up their sport each season eliminates their boredom. Just like a vacation can restore an adult’s passion for their profession, frequent breaks or switches in sporting commitments keeps kids engaged. No pressure, just joy!

Offers Different Experiences

While it’s not necessarily a bad thing for children to establish their specialized sport early in life, doing so can come with missed opportunities. Sticking with the same sport often means staying on the same team with the same coaches, playing the same position.

Encouraging your child to try a range of sports will introduce them to new teammates, new coaches, a new game, and a whole new set of skills. It just might challenge their perception of a particular sport, too! Not a fan of football? Sign them up (with their consent, of course) and see if their opinion changes!

Builds Resilience & Adaptability

A child who’s played multiple sports has had to adapt to a new environment more than once. Rotating through a series of sports demonstrates an openness to—and enthusiasm for—learning new things!

Making a switch to your child’s sports schedule demands flexibility. As their routine changes, they’ll need to adjust accordingly. Navigating this new territory fosters their confidence and strengthens their sense of self!

Reduces Injuries

Soccer players kick. Baseball players swing. Basketball players jump. Using the same muscle groups in the same patterns for an extended period of time increases a child’s chance of facing a sports-related injury.

Exploring alternative sports swaps which muscle groups are in motion and reduces repetitive movement patterns. Shifting the focus from one muscle group to another keeps your kiddo’s muscles in solid shape, contributing to their overall health.

Being a Good Sport

If your child takes to a certain sport in their early years, do the benefits of playing multiple sports still apply?

Yes, they do!

While every young athlete wants to go for the Olympic gold, the odds are slim that they’ll even have the opportunity to compete in college. Does that mean your child should drop their dream? No, never!

What that does mean is that their time to practice, play, and perform is limited. Instead of honing in and specializing in a certain sport, it might make more sense for them to spread out their sporting experiences. Encourage your child to make the most of the years they have by exploring every option!

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