College and High School Coaches Encourage Well-Rounded Young Athletes

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logoMost high school coaches agree, It’s better for a young person not to play the same sport year-round.

A growing number of sports physiologists, pediatricians, psychologists — even coaches and professional athletes — who argue that young people who specialize in one sport before high school are more likely to get injured, stressed out or burned out than those who play multiple sports Moreover, they say, those kids might not become as good at their sport as their peers with more diverse experience.

Such sentiments are backed by a growing body of coaches and researchers. A study published in the September 2014 Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, for example, found that only one quarter of the minor league professional baseball players surveyed specialized in the sport before the age of 12, and the mean age of specialization was 15. Those who waited to specialize, the survey also found, were more likely to get college scholarships.

In recent years, the benefits for children who play more than one sport have been extolled by prominent figures from the president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine to Orioles icon Cal Ripken, Jr.

The body needs periodic breaks. It’s even more important for kids to have breaks and one way to do that is to shift from one sport to another,” says McDuff, who was team psychiatrist for the Baltimore Ravens for years and still serves as a team psychiatrist for the Orioles.

Playing a variety of sports, on the other hand, develops a wider variety of muscles and physical skills — and adds a jolt of excitement and fun that can keep a person playing sports into adulthood.

“We’re in a transitional period,” says Columbia sports psychologist Daniel Zimet. “The knowledge of what’s best for kids is available and being expressed, but it hasn’t made its way into the hearts and minds of coaches and parents.”

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Edited and re-published from Pete Pichaske For Howard Magazine

April 12, 2017