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Why Your Kid Should Be A Multi-Sport Athlete

So you think your kid is the next big football star? Why stop at one sport?

Anna Flanagan's hockey coaching clinic

Playing multiple sports gives your child a better chance of finding out which sport suits them best and can help grow and develop their skill level.

Experts agree that physical literacy can help kids to develop a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional skills within sport and provides the foundation for a successful life.

Many parents have experienced those hectic days of sport with their kids, running around from footy training to basketball games. Little Athletics to gymnastics competitions. Cricket training to soccer tournaments, and the list goes on. While it may become stressful and chaotic the child developmental benefits make it all worthwhile.

1. Develop a rounded skill set

Every single sport has its own skill set and unique level of focus and resiliency. Games like cricket require mostly long-term attention with some quick action, while other sports are all about pacing and endurance. The broader exposure your kids get to these different conditions, the better. Jumping for a rebound in basketball works the same muscles that swimmers use to push off the starting blocks.

When a child plays multiple sports, he or she is learning an abundance of new skills that can be widely applied elsewhere. Learning sprint form in athletics leads to faster running on the footy field and basketball provides the quick feet required for tennis.

The average number of multi-sport athletes in the NFL alone is 70 percent, which is not surprising when you consider the varied skills needed such as speed, power, endurance, strength and agility. Playing multiple sports is an opportunity to become a better all-around athlete, which is exactly what coaches love and want.

2. Fewer injuries

Researchers have found that it is a good idea to break up normal training routines with a different sport as it avoids repetitive strain injuries. It also leads to better muscle, motor and skill development and promotes general athleticism, balance, speed and agility.

When your kids are specialising in just one sport, they are repeating the same movements over and over and across a long period of time. Growing bodies can become overstressed by repetition, which in turn increases the chance of injury. There are loads of examples of children with “grown-up” sports injuries such as torn hamstrings and knee ligament problems.

Encourage your child to try multiple sports

3. Social exposure

When playing more than one sport, kids are exposed to a wide range of different people of all ages and backgrounds. Interacting with their coaches, teammates and parents can help them expand their social circle and develop their personal skills.

Exposing kids to different sports allows them to share teammate experiences and make memories with a diverse group of peers.

Determination, motivation and the “never give up” attitude are all traits that can transfer across to other sports, making them better athletes and helping then gain crucial life skills for the long run.

4. Reduced emotional fatigue

Balance is healthy for everyone, including sporty kids. As we would all know, kids get bored easily. Focusing on just one sport can become a chore for the child, repeating the same process over and over again. The balance and variety that comes from playing multiple sports keeps young athletes alert and engaged.

Which Australian stars have had success as multi-sport athletes?

Jarryd Hayne is a well known multi-sport athlete

Many Australian sports stars have thrived at the highest level of two or more sports, including:

Jarryd Hayne

Started off with athletics as a child before joining the NRL with Parramatta Eels, then moved to the US to play for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. He is now back in the NRL playing for the Gold Coast Titans.

Israel Folau

Won an NRL premiership with Melbourne Storm before transitioning to AFL with GWS Giants and is currently playing Rugby Union for the NSW Waratahs.

Ellyse Perry

Has played for the Australian women’s cricket and soccer teams since the age of 16.

Karmichael Hunt

Played Rugby League for the Brisbane Broncos and represented Australia before joining the Gold Coast Suns AFL team. He is currently playing Rugby Union for the Queensland Reds.

Erin Phillips

WNBA and Australia International player during winter and star women's AFL player during summer.

Dean Brogan

Won an NBL championship with the Adelaide 36ers, then an AFL premiership with Port Adelaide.

Mason Cox

Played college basketball in the US for Oklahoma State University before switching to AFL where he currently plays for Collingwood.

Mike Pyke

Played Rugby Union for Canada before making the switch to AFL - currently playing with the Sydney Swans.

Hugh Greenwood

Plays AFL for the Crows but used to play college basketball in the US with the University of New Mexico.

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