Too many times nowadays you’ll see young athletes dedicate themselves to one sport all of their lives.
They may have dabbled in a second or third sport as children, but quickly found that they were better at one over the others.
Suddenly, they stopped playing the other sports and narrowed their athletic choices to one discipline.
These kids play hockey, that’s all they do. It’s all they want to do and it’s all their parents want them to play.
Too say it’s just hockey players that tend to do this would be unfair. It’s just that in this country, it’s what we see the most of.
It can be any sport really. A kid shows promise in baseball, volleyball or table tennis, and they start limiting their experiences in everything else. Their world becomes about one sport.
There’s too many sports to discuss, so lets stick with the one everyone is familiar with.
For a lot of parents and kids, hockey is everything. That’s fine, but that line of thinking could be holding these kids back.
A lot of it is what I’ll call “keeping up with the Joneses” syndrome. It’s this belief that a young athlete will fall behind in one sport if they spend the offseason playing a different one.
They believe that three months not spent on the ice will diminish the skills of their kids in some way. Like they’ll forget how to handle the puck or skate up the ice.
They can’t possibly fall behind. They’ll never make the show.
Of course part of this thinking has to do with parents living through their kids and wanting professionals because they never could get it done.
But, the kid is athletic as heck and a pretty good player in these other sports. Shouldn’t he be given the opportunity to excel as those too?
Why not get the best out of your athletic gifts?
Zeroing in on one sport and focusing early does nothing for their development as athletes.
They should be encouraged to get the most out of their gifts at an early age. This means being put in athletic situations where they may not be especially successful.
Playing one sport and nothing else can play a bit on the mind of young athletes. They run the risk of burning themselves out.
Countless talents have been derailed because they play too much of one sport. They get bored with the game and never pick it up again, save for some beer league hockey or weekend warrior stuff.
A report from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine cites the threat of overuse injuries from focusing too much on one sport. This can affect these kids long into their adult lives and perhaps discourage physical activity.
Skills from different sports lend themselves to each other. Muscles become attuned to moving in different directions and ways.
They become better athletes when they get their feet wet in any number of different sports.
You think it’s any coincidence that Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Tom Glavine was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft? He excelled at both because there are skills that translate to each other.
In the future, let’s promote a full physical life and get kids involved in everything. They’ll be all the better for it.
Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He couldn’t wait to put away the blades in favour of a ball and glove for the summer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.