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Cross Training: Enter The Multisport Athlete

Sport specialization has become the new standard at a progressively younger age range

Cross Training Goals Promote:

  1. Life long activity
  2. Diverse skill development
  3. Focusing on the whole body
  4. Healthy competition

Sport Specialization Truths

  1. Overtraining
  2. Burnout
  3. College Scholarship Illusion
  4. Stunted Potential

If I told you that if you followed these suggestions you would: Be more likely to be play a sport for the rest of your life, be more likely to succeed and avoid many of injuries sustained during sports – would you do it? What if I told you that you would lower your risk of injury if you took a vacation from your favorite sport and played an unrelated sport … would you listen?

The clinically proven truth is: Athletes that focus on one sport year-round, chasing the “full-ride” scholarship, are more likely to sustain overuse-type injuries, become physically and mentally burnt out, and potentially be stunted athletically.

Following the completion of a long season of sport-specific training, practice and competition, what are you doing?

Sport Specialization on Multiple Teams

Single-sport, year-round training and competition is becoming more common for children and adolescents. A focus on participating in one sport, or single-sport specialization, to improve, advance, and compete at the highest level may drive youth to participate for long hours daily on one or more teams at a time. This is most common in soccer, baseball and gymnastics.

The motivation behind this over-involvement may be induced by the child or parent. As more young athletes are becoming professionals at a younger age, there is more pressure to grab a piece of the “professional pie,” to obtain a college scholarship, or to make the Olympic team. Most young athletes and their parents fail to realize that, depending on the sport, only 0.2% to 0.5% of high school athletes ever make it to the professional level. Yet, youth continue to specialize in one sport.

Multisport Athlete

Well-rounded, multi-sport athletes have the highest potential to achieve the goal of lifelong fitness and enjoyment of physical activity while avoiding some of the pitfalls of overuse, overtraining and burnout, provided that they participate in moderation and are in tune with their bodies for signs of overuse or fatigue.

Many youth will play multiple sports throughout the year, either simultaneously or during different seasons. They may do this because they enjoy multiple sports or because their coach or parent pushes them to participate in other sports to condition them for their primary sport, or in hopes of being noticed by college or professional scouts. There may be additional pressures from other coaches who wish to better their team by calling on well-rounded athletes from other sports.

Multisport athletes are at risk of overuse injuries if they do not get sufficient rest between daily activities, or if they do not get a break between seasons. Multisport athletes who participate in two or more sports where the major emphasis is the same body part (eg, swimmers and baseball pitchers) are at higher risk of overuse injuries than those who participate in sports where there is a different emphasis (eg, track and golf).


Washington Youth Soccer

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