The Benefits of Youth Multi-Sport Athletes

Posted by Kasi Boucher-Zawaira on February 26, 2024

This blog is sure to date me, but growing up in the 80’s and 90’s deciding what activities to do and when was relatively easy for my parents (and later myself) to decide. I loved sports, so no matter what sport they signed me up for I was more than likely willing and excited to try. What I believe came easier for them, more than for myself now that I am raising 8 and 13-year-old boys, is when to do those activities and how often.

It was no question when I was growing up that I would play tennis and softball in the late spring, summer, and early fall because that is when the weather outside allowed for those activities. basketball, hockey, and skiing etc. were done in the winter during the season for that sport. Of course, there was always an option to specialize depending on how far you wanted to drive and how much money you wanted to spend, but for most of the youth my age everyone just played whatever sports they wanted during the season it was in. I also think it helped that middle school sports were offered where I lived, but I’ll save that topic for another blog.

Fast forward to today and specialization is a booming trend in youth sports. While it is great to have the option to play a single sport year-round, I also think it is good to look at the positives of continuing to play multiple sports for our youth rather than specializing at a young age.

Here are a few examples of the benefits of multiple sports for our youth:

  • Early specialization can lead to boredom and burnout. - Many kids get bored doing the same thing repeatedly. Sports are meant to be fun, and variety keeps things fun for kids. Often specialization in one sport comes with pressure and stress and it’s no longer about having fun. This can cause some kids to mentally check out and quit altogether. A quote from soccer star Abby Wambach says it best “Having the ability to play basketball for a bit throughout the year gave me the chance to crave soccer, to miss it.”
  • Prevents overuse injuries - Growing youth bodies need to work different planes of motion in order to not develop muscle imbalances. When athletes use the same muscles and motions for the entire year the risk for injuries due to overuse greatly increases. A study from Loyola University in Chicago found that out of 1200 young athletes 70-93% of them are more likely to become injured playing one sport rather than multiple.
  • Skills that are learned in one sport or activity can be transferred to others. - These include skills like hand-eye coordination, balance, endurance, explosion, communication, and agility.
  • Higher overall Sports IQ - Problem solving skills carry over and compound from sport to sport as well as in the classroom.
  • Multisport athletes have a much higher chance of being active adults.
  • Improves overall fitness - Playing multiple sports can help children improve their overall fitness and reduce the risk of obesity and other health problems.
  • Exposure to different groups of kids - Being in different sports allows them to share teammate experiences and make memories with a diverse group of friends. It helps them expand their social circle.

Here are some examples of how sports can complement each other.

  • Basketball and Volleyball: Both sports require jumping, quick reflexes, and hand-eye coordination.
  • Soccer and Track and Field: Soccer players can benefit from track and field training to improve their speed, endurance, and overall fitness. At the same time the running you get in soccer can make training for track and field more enjoyable for some.
  • Gymnastics and Dance: Gymnastics and dance are both artistic sports and require flexibility, balance, and coordination. By doing both sports children develop their creativity and self-expression, as well as improve their physical fitness.
  • Improved neuromuscular efficiency and coordination: When we are young the central nervous system is like a sponge. It’s ready to learn and soak up new movement patterns quickly. The older we get, the harder it is to learn skills developed during multi-sport participation. The more comfortable we become moving our body in multiple ways, the more efficient we will be at performing tasks.

While it is up to each individual family to make the best decision for them, it’s evident that multi-sport participation can provide athletes with a wide range of benefits including improved health and wellness, better academic performance, and developing a variety of skills that can be applied to different sports.

If you need further evidence, just look at some of our greatest athletes who played multiple sports. Derek Jeter played basketball in high-school, Michael Jordan played baseball, Minnesota’s very own Dave Winfield played both baseball and basketball for the Gophers, and Bo Jackson was both an MLB All-Star and an NFL Pro Bowler!

Kasi Boucher-Zawaira

Kasi Boucher-Zawaira

Kasi is originally from Taylors Falls, Minnesota and moved to Rochester in 2005. In college she was a Division 2 All-Conference tennis player. Away from work, Kasi enjoys spending time outdoors with her two boys and family.

Contact Kasi Boucher-Zawaira at (507) 287-9335 ext. 363.

Fun, Fitness, Fashion!

Your favorite athleisure styles are at Thrive!

Learn More

Current Usage:

Club Hours:

Monday - Friday: 5:00 am - 10:30 pm

Saturday & Sunday: 7:00 am - 9:00 pm

View Current Club Details