Dr. James Andrews, one of the nation’s foremost sports orthopedic surgeons, urges parents to encourage their children to play multiple sports and avoid playing year-round.
If you want to get better at something, it would seem wise to dedicate all of your time do that one thing, right? According to Dr. James Andrew, the 2018 NFL Draft, and many other recent studies, that line of thinking is wrong for two reasons.
A young athlete’s body is still developing. Therefore, teaching correct mechanics are extremely important to keep them safe as well as create the right muscle memory.
When a child participates in several sports, different muscles, movements, and joints are strengthened and have increased mobility. Think about it like rotating your tires. If you don’t rotate them, they wear down in a specific spot. If your kid only plays baseball, their shoulder is going to wear down. Rotate to basketball, they strengthen new parts of the body and allow the muscles involved in throwing a baseball to rest.
Not only will their body not wear down, but their love of the game won’t fizzle either. Often times, children who specialize in a sport at a young age burn out and stop playing all together.
This year, as is true in many seasons’ Drafts, 29 of 32 athletes taken in the first round of the NFL were multi-sport athletes. The Cardinals’ first round pick Josh Rosen was a nationally ranked youth tennis player, while other players like Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen were baseball players, and 22 of the 29 were track & field athletes.
Larry Fitzgerald agrees with the idea of being a multi-sport athlete. He says, “Today, a lot of kids individualize in a specific sport. I think one of the things that helped me most was playing everything. I played basketball, I played football, I ran track. I even played soccer one year, [and] I played baseball. I think it allowed me to recruit different muscles [and] work on different things that I normally wouldn’t. And, it gave me a greater appreciation for the sport that I’ve come to love.”
Former Suns star Amar’e Stoudemire is quoted saying, “In high school I did a lot of cross training. I ran track a lot; I played soccer [and] baseball; I played football. All those sports were combined into my training regimen, and I just transferred that over to basketball.” Steve Nash’s obsession with soccer is also no secret.
These athletes have ended up being some of the best in their sports and they played several sports as kids, in high school, and some even in college. They realize and preach how each sport they participated in helped them in some way, whether it be physically or mentally. Doctors like Dr. James Andrews back them up. It’s not just about focusing on one sport and pushing them to be the best in the world, but as Dr. Andrews said, “Let your kid do what’s fun and enjoy playing youth baseball, for goodness sakes.”
Physical therapists can help diagnose any muscle imbalances that may cause some of the issues that come from sport specialization. They’re able to create exercise plans in order to create balance in the athlete’s body and keep them safe. If your child has an existing injury, give us a call so one of our therapists can:
1) Diagnose the injury
2) Determine the cause of injury
3) Provide treatment for healing
4) Provide tools to prevent injury from occurring again.
If you have any questions regarding how to keep your kid healthy as they play the sports they love, make sure to ask your physical therapist or give us a call at (602) 808-8989.