The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

The Student News Site of Mountain Ridge High School | Glendale, Arizona

The Ridge Review

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The Benefits of Being a Multisport Athlete

Soccer+field
Photo by Timothy Tan on Unsplash

In youth sports, the movement towards specializing in just one sport has become more prevalent than ever; however, it poses some concerns for young athletes. Looking back just a few decades ago, most high school students were multisport athletes, playing on several of the teams that their schools offered. It might’ve been football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring. But more recent years have seen the trend of single-sport athletes and the domination of athletes who play club sports. Dedicating several hours a week on a year-round schedule has transformed games, making athletics more competitive and intense than in the past. More and more young athletes are showing immense talent, and have started committing to clubs and involved training schedules as early as six years old. While this new era of youth sports seems to be evolving the game itself, there are quite a bit of unspoken drawbacks that suggest it may not be as glorious as it seems, and that being a multisport athlete could potentially be a healthier approach.

 

One of the most glaring problems with participating in just one sport for years at a time is the injuries associated with it. During the season, there are few off days and little time for rest and recovery. When an athlete performs the same strenuous movements over and over, it puts stress on the body which can lead to pain, soreness, and in some cases, serious injury. In baseball, there is a common affliction for young players, sometimes known as “little league elbow”. According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “This is an overuse injury to one of the growth plates on the inside of the elbow.” The motion of pitching and throwing dozens of times, at every practice, over many seasons in a row, can be harmful to these players. This source also notes that “The main culprit of pediatric elbow injuries is simply allowing children to throw too much.” This leads to the notion that if athletes played other sports and used other mechanisms in the body, then they might be able to give their bodies a rest and prevent these specific types of injuries.

 

Another issue that can occur with a hyper focus in a single sport is burnout. As athletes get older, and teens become more passionate about their sport, there will always be a percentage that loses interest and quits. This lack of passion could stem from either mental or physical challenges. The National Athletic Trainers Association defines this as, “a syndrome of continual training and sport attention stress, resulting in staleness, overtraining and eventually burnout.” The repetition of playing one sport year after year can not only be exhausting but mentally straining as well. For some people, time away from their sport is the best thing to create the “want” to get back into it. Playing more than one sport can give this variety and allow for what feels like a break.

 

However, while being a multisport athlete can allow one to avoid these issues, the significant challenge of time commitment does exist. Lili Motz, a junior at Mountain Ridge who plays soccer, flag football, and runs track, shared that during overlapping seasons she spends “around 20 hours each week on practices and games.” With this amount of training also comes the difficult task of, “finding time to rest and balancing sports with school and social life.” Being a student-athlete can already be hard to manage, and a schedule like this can feel nearly impossible to stay on top of. But, Motz believes that “the most rewarding part is getting to experience different sports with different team dynamics, challenging yourself, and becoming a well-rounded athlete.”

 

The dynamic between playing one vs several sports is interesting because although they both revolve around athletics, they are vastly different. Specialized athletes typically play for a club year-round, while multisport athletes will often play for several of their high school teams, based on their less intense time commitment. While people who compete in a variety of sports are sometimes able to avoid overuse injuries and burnout, it can also be a struggle to maintain the schedule it requires. But, the experience of being on several teams can make the hard work worth it. In the end, there is no right or wrong approach to athletics, but there are many benefits to consider in becoming a multisport athlete.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Dudley
Jenna Dudley, Editor in Chief
Jenna Dudley is currently a sophomore and is in her first year of working for The Ridge Review. She is the editor in chief and loves to write. She enjoys playing soccer, reading, and spending time with friends and family. On the weekend she is either playing in a soccer game or refereeing one. Her favorite place to be is in the mountains whether it's hiking, stand-up paddle boarding or stargazing.

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