Parents might want to listen to a couple of youth sports experts before following the moved toward having their young athlete focus on just one sport.
“It’s really unfortunate when a 10-year-old is told to pick just one sport,” said University of Sports owner, and longtime youth sports coach, Aaron Locks. “Kids should use sports to have fun. They need to play different sports and enjoy them all as much as they can.”
Locks isn’t the only successful coach who wishes the age of multi-sport athletes hadn’t yielded to a generation of youngsters being pushed to choose one sport to take part in all year around.
“I coach a team for 10-year-old travel baseball players,” said former Sonoma State University basketball and baseball star Paige Dumont, the lead sports director at the University of Sports. “I don’t like what year-around sports are doing for kids. I’m seeing kids who pick a sport and concentrate on it from the time they’re eight years old until they’re 14 – then they burn out. They get tired of that sport. I can’t stress enough the value of young people playing a variety of sports.”
Dumont was a 6-foot-8 basketball star at Sonoma State who went on to be a professional baseball pitcher who pitched for five seasons in the minor leagues.
“Having been a player, I saw the value of playing two different sports,” said Dumont, who is also the head baseball coach at Santa Rosa High School. “I never burned on basketball or on baseball. One sport helped develop me for the other."
Opportunities is what the University of Sports coach provide.
Dumont said the biggest problem facing youngsters who only participate in one sport is the risk of them becoming bored with and tired of the sport.
“I know 10-year-old baseball players who don’t want to play baseball all year around,” he said. “It falls on the parents to help the kid see value in playing more than one sport and knowing when it’s OK to step back. We notice that parents are the key when we talk about a kid playing multiple sports because it’s pretty hard to change a child’s mind about just playing baseball just because we think he might have the talent to be a great football player or basketball player. It’s all on the parents.”
Cortese said that parents are also responsible for keeping track of the potential injury that comes from taking part in just one sport.
"We're seeing 10-year-old kids with overuse injuries," Cortese said. "Overuse injuries in the knee and shoulder just shouldn't be happening at a young age, but we're seeing them because kids are doing the same movements in the same sport and it stresses the body."
Locks, who stresses fundamental skills when youngsters take part in University of Sports camps, believes that parents and youngsters might lose sight of what value youth sports have.
“Let the kids go play a sport for fun,” Locks said. “Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s not spend 80 percent of our time trying to help a kid become a star in just one sport.”
Locks knows why some parents focus on pushing their athlete into just one sport.
“They talk about getting a college athletic scholarship,” Locks said. “We have to be realistic because 2.3 percent of financial aid given at our colleges is actually financial aid given to an athlete because of sports.”
Dumont, who is proof that a multi-sport athlete can star into and beyond college, tries to show youth sports campers that even a grown man benefits from skills training in different sports.
“I run basketball and baseball camps,” Dumont said. “I’ve also run volleyball and soccer camps. I have to practice my skills in different sports. It’s nice to be able to let kids see that I can go through soccer drills and that I’m not just a basketball or baseball coach.”