With sports specialization becoming the norm for more athletes at younger ages, the NFL Draft is a reminder that limiting options is not often beneficial.
According to NFL.com, 224 of the 256 players selected in the 2015 NFL Draft played two or more sports in high school.
Among the data:
- 63% of the players competed in track and field
- 48% of the athletes played basketball
- 10% of the athletes played baseball
The Fitness School encourages young athletes to play multiple sports. Many medical experts recommend taking part in a variety of activities –structured or not – which leads to greater skill and better muscle development.
The lateral movement basketball players use to stay in front of a defenders is the same skillset a shortstops develops in fielding ground balls while offensive linemen use the similar footwork to improve their pass protection.
Playing a mixture of other sports holds many benefits, including fewer overuse injuries, less chance of mental burnout and building healthy habits that last a lifetime. Playing multiple sports also can build better teammates. A football star who is anchor for his team might be a role player in another sport thus giving that athlete a perspective he might not otherwise have.
Regardless of the sport, it’s important for players to try different positions in order to develop a variety of skills and muscle strength. This is the value that recreation flag or competition 7v7 football offers; a place where tackle football players can expand their skill sets during the offseason while continuing to enjoy the fun and benefits of the sport. The same could be said for volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, so on and so forth.
You don’t get stronger by lifting the same weight the same number of times each day, and you cannot become more resilient without facing new character challenges. Mix it up. As kids mature, they will move toward what they like and are good at. That happens naturally.
So, in the meanwhile let’s help them become better athletes in the process!