Do you often think about the injuries associated with only focusing on one sport? A better question might be this one – are you even aware that participating in only one sport can be perilous for children?

Parents often sign up children to one sport for a specific reason in mind. Maybe that was their sport of choice when they were young, or perhaps it’s just the sport the child in question is incredibly attached to. Many families aren’t into the idea of playing multiple sports simply because it’s not something that comes up – but it should.

There are two main reasons that children should play more than one sport – skill and injury. We will touch on skill quickly, then move on to why single sport injuries are so prevalent and how to put a stop to them.

Skills and Multi-Sport Participation

Recently an image floated around the sports Internet-verse from an Ohio State recruiter. Based on his infographic, 42 of the recruits he conformed to the university played multiple sports in high school. Only five athletes played one sport.

The reasons multi-sport athletes are so admired are numerous. They’re obviously committed and capable of juggling multiple sports and school. They have a more well-rounded athletic skillset with a more advanced understanding of concepts like hand eye coordination. They’re also more likely to be competitive and driven. While single-sport athletes aren’t lacking in these areas, multi-sport athletes still show a more advanced understanding of athleticism in comparison.

 Single-Sport Injury Issues

Say you play tennis. You’re right handed and consistent playing has led to a wrist sprain. You let the injury heal properly, but you promptly sprain the wrist again a few weeks later. This cycle repeats itself over and over until a doctor informs you that it’s wise to quit tennis altogether. You also have a permanently sore wrist that may require surgery.

This scenario perfectly illustrates one of the biggest problems with playing only one sport for prolonged periods of time. While there is an argument to be made that keeping at a sport continuously makes you better, there is an equally important argument that includes playing interchanging sports in order to refrain from consistent injury.

Think about crop rotation cycles – farmers don’t often plant crops over and over again because they spoil the ground. Farmers rotate other crops throughout their fields to keep the earth viable – sports should be treated in this same manner.

Children have a leg up over adults because they are resilient, but this doesn’t mean they should be playing the same sport over and over again. There’s also an issue of not letting injuries heal like they should – a young athlete may think they’re fine to start playing again because their injury doesn’t hurt, but it will likely act up again if they get back onto the field too soon.

Reinjuring themselves or developing a chronic injury due to overuse are both common in youth athletes. The best way to prevent this problem is to both keep up with exercising during off seasons and to rotate sports. Signing up a child for both a fall and spring sport is also a good recommendation.