Benefits and advantages of playing multiple sports for young children

Benefits of playing multiple sports

News & Events

Benefits of playing multiple sports

27 August 2020

As a parent of young children it can be a difficult decision to work out what sport is best for your child. 

What have they shown an interest in so far? Do they need to learn more about teamwork? What sport is the easiest to learn? Would they prefer a non-contact sport? Do they need to improve their hand-eye coordination? 

Not to mention what day of the week, time or location is going to work for you and your family!

Well, you don’t need to choose just one sport. 

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that there are huge benefits for kids that try a multitude of sports. There’s also a number of  professional athletes who have tried a range of physical activities that support these theories too, arguing that kids that try a range of sports become much better athletes for a number of reasons.  Did you know that Shane Warne played Football for St Kilda FC before choosing Cricket? And that Cricket superstar, Ellyse Perry had a successful playing career in Football (soccer) playing for the Matilda’s at the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germany scoring three goals for Australia.

This doesn’t mean getting your child to take a multi-sport approach all at once, it is important to space it out so that they have a chance to take each one in without getting exhausted or burnt out. 

One of the many benefits of learning a variety of sports for children is that it gives them the opportunity to learn different types of movement as well as sport skills. In many instances, leading to shared skill sets or benefits once they go on to try an alternative sport.

The above image from Active for Life demonstrates this multi-sport approach further by providing a number of examples of how different sport skills can help each other.

In these examples you can see the value of children trying different sports as it is providing them with cross-training. Many coaches argue that it makes for a more dynamic team player too. 

Different types of skills can be applied from one sport to the next. This enhances things like hand-eye coordination, balance, endurance, explosion, communication and agility.

Former American soccer player, coach and two time Olympic gold medalist, Abby Wambach said: 

"Playing basketball had a significant impact on the way I play the game of soccer... I am a taller player in soccer, in basketball I was a power forward and I would go up and rebound the ball. So learning the timing of your jump, learning the trajectory of the ball coming off the rim, all those things play a massive role." 

We all know that sports have a lot to offer, such as teaching your child life skills that they can use later in life. Values like respect, teamwork, honesty and integrity are just some of the incredible qualities that sports can instil in your child. 

Add to this the benefits of a multi-sport approach and you will also see that your kids will learn how to be a team player in different scenarios or situations. They will also learn how to deal with adversity, especially if they are highly skilled in one sport but need development with another. 

Research suggests that children that do a variety of sports demonstrate 

  • Improvements in life skills such as leadership and teamwork; 
  • Better school attendance
  • Higher academic achievements
  • Greater chance of being active as adults.

Another important view is to consider that while your child might have a poor experience of one particular sport because they did not enjoy it for some reason, taking a multi-sport approach helps to maintain their overall interest in sport. 

Another argument is injury prevention. We all know that using the same muscles repeatedly for a long period of time can lead to injury. In regards to children, while sports injuries may be reasonably low at a young age, by playing different sports the players stress different muscles throughout their training.  Having that variety of movements or activities can therefore limit the occurrence of overuse injuries associated with just one sport. A multi-sport player will have more time to heal their muscles as well as develop different muscle groups and movement patterns. 

"Having that variety is an awesome thing and I would encourage any young athlete or parent not to restrict themselves. Doing different things develops different parts of your body. It can help prevent injuries and definitely help prevent burnout." Lauren Holiday, retired professional soccer player. 

Visit Sport Star Academy to see the many sports on offer for your child and reap the discounted benefits of trying more than one sport through our academy.