Could your children be making decisions that hurt their physical development? While I don’t claim to be a doctor, I do have very specific feelings about your young athletes specializing in one sport too early. Consider these points when your 12-year-old tells you he/she only wants to play soccer from here on out and eventually become a pro!
Sports and the body
Sports are a wonderful way to incorporate fitness into your child’s life. But they can create imbalances in the body because they are typically one-side dominant (unless you’re a swimmer). That means that if you do just one sport day-in and day-out, you could be creating serious imbalances and potential misalignments in your joints and muscles. This can be particularly detrimental for young athletes whose bones and bodies are still growing.
Suppose, for example, that your 12-year-old decides to go 100 percent into baseball. By choosing to focus on only that sport, he or she is only training muscles that relate to that sport. Young athletes who do this may never have the opportunity to create the strongest symmetrical and efficient body possible if they are batting right handed/throwing right handed and not doing much legwork on the baseball diamond. There is more to your body than swinging a bat and fielding a ball!
Sports and the mind
You should also question the deeper meaning to your child’s decision in choosing one sport. Is it purely for love of the game, OR is there an underlying cause — like they feel pressure to be on their best friend’s team and stick tight to their buddies? It’s important to investigate the emotions and motivations behind their choice by asking questions: Why this sport? What do they love about it? What other sports might offer the same or different benefits?
This is especially true when a sport doesn’t work out. Often when a child experiences failure or disappointment when trying a new sport, they want to abandon it immediately. But I have learned the most from my disappointments. I have grown through these lessons, and failure motivated my success. If your child wants to quit a sport before giving it a fair try or after one failed attempt, try reminding them that even Michael Jordan didn’t make his 10th grade basketball team! If that isn’t a kick in the pants I am not sure what is!
In a nutshell, your kids need to have full sport experiences, filled with ups and downs, and explore/expand their mind, body and potential. Playing just one sport is a very one-dimensional experience and increases the likelihood of boredom and disinterest, whereas playing multiple sports will encourage your kids to be well-rounded and give them multiple outlets for learning true-life lessons.
If your children are unable to accept your suggestions to try different sports — and boy do I understand the dynamics of stubborn kids — then try adding a program like Fit Body Yoga to their lives to help them develop and maintain a symmetrical, well-trained, balanced body. Yoga is one of the only “sports” that does not favor the right or left side of the body, and it will encourage children to use both sides equally.