In today’s world, we see youth participation in activity decreasing. And those youth that are staying active tend to pick one sport and stick with it, especially in Canada where it seems like it’s a crime not to play hockey when growing up. But is it really beneficial for your child to spend so much time focusing on one sport or should they be trying others?

What are the negatives of youth participating in a single sport?

            Though you can argue that having youth in sport or activity is great and has many health benefits, there can also be some minor setbacks from having a child participate and focus on a single sport. For example, youth who participate in hockey and train solely for hockey may never develop their upper body movement patterns to throw a ball. Being a hockey player, they will tend to have a strong posterior chain as it is required for skating and they may have lacking front chin coordination and development causing movements such as kicking a ball to feel unnatural or difficult. These underdeveloped movement patterns or musculature can cause issues in the future when the youth becomes tired of the single sport they have been playing and want to try something new.

Benefits of youth learning multiple sports.

            As we all know, healthy and fit people tend to live longer. So why not start at a younger age in learning and gaining an increased level of fitness. The development of an individual’s physical literacy drastically increases when they give multiple sports or activities a try. The benefits of having your child participate in multiple sports or activities, include developing more and complete movement patterns, avoiding imbalanced and underdeveloped muscles, and a decrease in the chance of the child losing interest in activities and eventually just sitting at home.

Many sports and activities are season based, so by participating in multiple sports or activities there is an opportunity for youth to stay active year-round. By staying active all year, it will aid in keeping them conditioned for that one sport they may like just a bit more than the others. Not to mention it might help keep them tired out and out of trouble. Different sports place different demands on the body. By having youth participate in a variety of activities, the development of the different metabolic systems and musculature is increased more equally.

            Along with all these different health and fitness benefits for a child as they are growing up, there are also social and mental benefits to participating in multiple activities. By participating in multiple activities, kids are able to meet other kids outside of their one favorite sport thus building a larger social circle. When it comes to the mental aspect I speak out of personal experience. My early years through grade school, my lone sport was hockey. Only having hockey as a sport, I always felt I had to be the best at hockey, and it was an added stress that I feel was unnecessary as a child. I wasn’t until I was in middle school and was introduced to basketball and volleyball where I really realized that I should be having fun while doing these activities. Basketball and volleyball were new to me and I knew I wouldn’t be the best at them, but I really had fun playing them. I took that approach into hockey and treated it as more of a fun activity rather than thinking I was making the NHL, and it renewed my love for the game.

How to fit in more activities.

            Sports and activities are expensive, and this may be a leading reason why youth are more focused on one rather than multiple sports. But there are simple and affordable ways to get youth into multiple activities. You can look for spring break or summer camps where children are introduced to a number of different games and activities. School sport teams can be cheaper than most publicly organized leagues or teams. Physical education at school is a great way for kids to stay active and develop a love for health and fitness.

            Now these are just a few reasons for giving youth the opportunity to participate in multiple activities as they are growing up. But let’s remember the best thing is just keeping them active, which sets them up to live a long healthy and fit life in their future.

By: Ethan Lindsay