Does Being a "One-Sport Athlete" Give Your Child a Better Edge Over the Competition? It May Not...

Last Updated by Nate Wek on

This weekend, like most South Dakotans, I was sitting at home trying to ride out the winter storm.

While hanging out and scanning through Facebook and Twitter, an interesting article caught my eye. It was a story from The Washington Post entitled “Playing one sport year-round isn’t smart, even for kids who want to go pro.”

According to the author Fred Bowen, a sports opinion columnist for KidsPost, it may not be in a young child’s best interest to specialize in just one sport.

Kids who specialize before the ages of 13/14 are at a greater risk to sustain “higher rates of injury or quitting sports [all together] by getting burned out.”

But why would kids who specialize in one sport be at a greater risk of enduring a sports injury?

It’s because of the similar motion at a consistent rate.

Not only do one-sport athletes devote more time to a particular sport, but they are also more inclined to go above and beyond with that sport during the year . One-sport athletes are more prone to partake in camps, which takes a seasonal activity and suddenly makes it an annual routine.

Loyola University – Chicago did a study where they examined 1,200 youth athletes. “[They found that] kids who specialized in one sport were 70 percent to 93 percent more likely to be injured than multi-sport athletes.”

Most will ask this question as a result… If a kid wants to play a sport in college or at the professional level, wouldn’t devoting more time to just one sport give that athlete a better chance at making it?

Bowen answered this as well by examining a study from the American Society of Sports Medicine. “The study found that 88 percent of college athletes played more than one sport when they were kids.”

It’s an interesting aspect to think about… Every year we see the bar raised with the ability and skill set of athletes entering college and the pros. And while it would seem that dedicating more time to just one sport would give a young athlete a better edge in the long-run, it may not be the best overall decision.

For South Dakota, this may not be as big of a deal since most young athletes participate in multiple sports and activities to begin with. And while I’d still take this one article with a 'grain of salt,' the multi-sport direction is something parents should consider talking to their kids about.

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