The benefits of multi-sport participation vs single sport specialisation

Hi everyone!

As we now offer football coaching at Halton UK, I thought it would be a good idea to share some really interesting information about the benefits of multi-sport participation and how it can actually further your development in the sport you eventually choose to specialise in. 

I definitely believe participating regularly in the school athletics and basketball teams really helped me progress with my football both technically and athletically.

Here are the major benefits to be gained by multi-sport participation:

  1. Better Overall Skills and Ability: Research shows that early participation in multiple sports leads to better overall motor and athletic development, longer playing careers, increased ability to transfer sports skills other sports and increased motivation, ownership of the sports experience, and confidence.
  2. Smarter, More Creative Players: Multi-sport participation at the youngest ages yields better decision making and pattern recognition, as well as increased creativity. These are all qualities that coaches of high level teams look for.
  3. Most College Athletes Come From a Multi-Sport Background: A 2013 American Medical Society for Sports Medicine survey found that 88% of college athletes surveyed participated in more than one sport as a child
  4. 10,000 Hours is not a Rule: Most elite competitors require far less than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Specifically, studies have shown that basketball (4000), field hockey (4000) and wrestling (6000) all require far less than 10,000 hours.
  5. Free Play Equals More Play: Early specialisation ignores the importance of deliberate play/free play. Researches describe deliberate play as activities which are intrinsically motivating, maximise fun and provide enjoyment are incredibly important. Deliberate play increases motor skills, emotional ability, and creativity. Children allowed deliberate play also tend spend more time engaged in a sport than athletes in structured training with a coach.
  6. There are Many Paths to Mastery: A 2003 study on professional ice hockey players found that while most pros had spent 10,000 hours or more involved in sports prior to age 20, only 3000 of those hours were involved in hockey specific deliberate practice (and only 450 of those hours were prior to age 12).

Here are some of the negatives of single sport participation for young athletes:

  1. Adult Inactivity: A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialised early in a single sport led to higher rates of adult physical inactivity. Those who commit to one sport at a young age are often the first to quit, and suffer a lifetime of consequences.
  2. Overuse Injury: In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr Neeru Jayanthi of Loyola University found that early specialisation in a single sport is one of the strongest predictors of injury. Athletes in the study who specialised were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports!
  3. Burnout: Children who specialise early are at a far greater risk for burnout due to stress, decreased motivation and lack of enjoyment

If you would like to progress your game by trying a different sport, then you are very welcome to come along to one of our FREE football taster sessions commencing 20th February 2016! Booking is required and can be done by clicking the following link:

Have a great week!

James (Everyball Football)

Our improvement is not conditional on who is down the other end

A key Everyball belief is that our improvement is not conditional on who is down the other end.

See 'Tennis Myths' by

'Hitting up' (the term used to practice with someone better) is another myth players and parents chase.

There is a clue that Nadal, Federer, Djockovic, etc. don't/can't hit up yet are constantly improving and evolving their game.

Think about that for a second: the Top 10 (and possibly Top 20) almost never hit together, are almost always hitting down, yet manage to get better year to year.

So how do they do it?

Well, for a start they focus on their game and aren't worrying who is across the net from them.  As long as the ball comes back, they're content.

Secondly, they don't rely on their hitting partner to bring the intensity, they bring that themselves.

Thirdly, by being the better player they drive the session, what they're working on, how they work on it and how long they go.

Not every session is gonna be a thrill....

Not every session on-court (or every lesson, or every swim/run/bike-ride, or every day at school/work) is going to be a thrill.  Sometimes it's about getting your head down and doing the work.  In fact, most of the time it's about getting your head down and doing the work. This can be fun, this can matter, it just always won't be a thrill.  Tough to grasp this in our instant gratification, quick-fix culture.

See this great post from Seth Godin.