Why should kids play multiple sports?
If you've paid attention to children's sports over the past few decades, you must have heard stories similar to the one that follows.
If you’ve paid attention to children’s sports over the past few decades, you must have heard stories similar to the one that follows.
Winter is coming and 11-year-old Johnny signs up for ice hockey. Having recently had a growth spurt, he is 15cm taller than most of his friends.
Thanks to his size, Johnny dominates the matches in his first season. The coach tells Johnny’s parents that he has a bright future ahead of him on the ice. He pushes them to give up the spring baseball season (and basketball in the fall) to focus on skating.
During the following years, Johnny continues to shine. His parents pushed him more and more to play until he finally had year-round competitions. At 15, Johnny begins to complain of pain in his hip. His doctor recommends that he quit ice hockey and consult a physiotherapist.
When Johnny returns to the ice a few months later, his comrades have caught up to him in height and they are the same stature. Losing the advantage of his superior size, Johnny is having his worst season and losing some of his love for the game.
To regain his performance, Johnny enrolls in additional power skating lessons, in addition to his competition seasons. Following this additional rigor, his hip hurts again.
For the next three years, the pattern repeated itself over and over again until Johnny was forced to undergo hip surgery, ending his career at 18.
WHAT HAPPENED ? DID JOHNNY HAVE SUCH A GOOD FUTURE IN SPORT?
Maybe yes, maybe not… At 11 there is no way to know. An 11-year-old elite athlete does not exist, on the other hand there are early or later growths. Johnny developed physically earlier than his friends, but they eventually caught up with him. When he was caught, it turned out he lacked the skills to keep up.
While some of his classmates had played multiple sports growing up, Johnny’s “movement vocabulary” was limited solely to ice hockey. In addition, the repeated stress of the same sport, all year round, had a negative impact on both his body and his mind. In essence, Johnny’s fate was sealed when his coach identified him as “superior talent.” »
It is easy to fall into this trap. In today’s culture, more is almost always considered better. For Johnny to be a star, the reasoning was that he needed more specificity, more playing experience and more hockey practices throughout the year.
What is not taken into account in this strategy is the importance of free time to develop the meaning and passion for ice hockey. It does not take into account the necessity of the off-season to fight against the repeated stresses of skating and to develop other motor skills – skills best developed by playing other sports.
One of the best things Johnny could have done for his ice hockey career was, for example, to continue playing baseball, at least until high school. Baseball requires multi-directional movement and rotary power, like ice hockey skating and shooting. In addition, it trains hand-eye coordination, the integration of upper and lower body movements and quick reactions. In this sense, baseball also develops skills specific to ice hockey.
Seeing this kind of example, we can say that the current approach to athletic development is failing in its long-term vision. By prioritizing the early identification of talents, we miss children whose puberty is later. Because of early specialization, we are seeing an unprecedented number of overload injuries resulting in a shorter career.
OVERALL, THIS SYSTEM PRODUCES LESS GOOD ATHLETES.
Instead, we need to take a long-term approach to athletic development. We need to emphasize multi-sport practice, strength training, and the off-season period. For example, even if ice hockey was the priority there are many other sports that can provide the athlete with transferable skills on the ice (example: baseball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, American football etc. ).
ABOVE ALL, WE MUST LET CHILDREN BE CHILDREN.
Encourage them to play outside. Emphasize practice and fun rather than competition and winning. Watch professional matches and analyze the tactics of the best players in the world. These are the means to achieve long-term greatness.
Of course it is easy to believe that a child is the next game genius, which is possible but we have to be better at developing it gradually. Otherwise we risk the same consequences as Johnny and the athlete never reaching his true potential.
We care, u perform.
Cet article est basé sur le blog de PhysioNetwork écrit par Travis Pollen.