My daughter had only played team sports like soccer and rowing when she decided to try a new sport, Nordic Skiing (cross country skiing) in order to play for her high school. In this sport, she was the newbie who was far from the best. But she and her friends, though novices, brought an infectious team spirit by cheering louds at events like races and awards banquets where support was typically more muted.
They made a lot of friends by simply inquiring about how other athlete’s races went, and providing emotional support when their new friends were unhappy with their results. It turns out that no one really did that. In return, she appreciated the simplicity of performance evaluation. Ranking based solely on her time was a break from a more subjective evaluation. My daughter still views Nordic Skiing as her “off-season” sport, but the benefits were both emotional and physical.
Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes
The statistic that 70% of kids quit organized sports before high school is a staggering one. As a coach, we can affect this number if we focus on getting our players to return to sports each season. One significant way is to supporting them when they are willing to play more than one sport in a season, or want to play a different sport during the off-season.
70% of kids quit organized sports before high school.
The trend to specialize in one sport contributes to athletes quitting before age 13.
A single sport athlete tends to feel more pressure to perform. There’s more risk for injury from repetitive motion.
As a coach, we can provide immense support to multi-sport athletes by simply providing permission to let them decide how the juggle conflicting demands. At the end of the day, if the athlete misses practices or games for one sport, she is probably getting a similar workout from her other sport.
Less than 7% percent of high school athletes move on to college sports.
With less than 7% percent of high school athletes moving on to college sports, allowing our players to participate in multiple sports gives them more opportunity to play in organized sports as adults.
Playing different sports prevents burnout.
There are so many good things that training in different sports brings to an athlete. Utilizing different muscle groups helps with injury prevention. It provides a mental break, and gives them a different perspective because they are probably playing at different proficiency levels. Training in the same sport and doing the same thing over and over again is boring.
By giving them the space to try new sports, we are reinforcing our primary message that this is for fun.
For the rest of this chapter, please read How to Coach Girls when it comes out in March of 2018 through Audrey Press.