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Variety leads to happier and healthier athletes

Posted by Jeremy Kelley on September 1, 2017

As both a parent and a coach, nothing frustrates me more than specialization.

Gone are the days of the two- or three-sport athlete. The trend over the past decade or two has been for young athletes to begin concentrating on one specific sport from a very young age all the way through their high school and college years as if this punches their ticket to playing professionally someday.

“Putting all of your eggs in one basket” is wrong, and unhealthy, for so many reasons. It is no coincidence that as athletic programs at the high school, middle school and even elementary school levels have become more and more competitive, injuries are occurring at a higher rate than ever before.

Educating youth about the importance of exercise should be the main goal when introducing them into sports, especially knowing that the rate of overweight and obese children is on the rise. Additionally, this type of mindset is the best form of injury prevention, as specializing in one sport severely increases the risk of serious injury due to continuous use of the same movement patterns.

Add to this the fact that variety amongst sports and activities certainly helps prevent boredom and burnout and it seems like a no-brainer that it is better for kids to participate in several sports or activities.

Unfortunately, as is the case day after day across the country, coaches and parents are forcing these young athletes to choose a sport, play year-round and sacrifice so much of what makes childhood so enjoyable – a stress-free life spent running and playing with family and friends.

Let kids be kids. Try different activities and sports. Meet different people. Experience successes and failures.

You’re only a kid once…

The JCC offers a wide variety of sports classes and programs for kids of all ages. To learn more, please contact Jeremy Kelley, Department Director of Sports & Recreation. 


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