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With volleyball season now in the books and football season wrapping up next week, many athletes are looking toward winter sports. Some athletes, however, may have decided not to do a winter sport or are unsure whether they should.
I’m here with a public service announcement. Do every sport you can.
There are a few reasons to consider doing multiple sports. First and foremost, it simply keeps you active and healthier. Your body is up and moving and you are getting plenty of exercise during practice. I know right now, going to town on a cheeseburger and soda doesn’t seem to affect you all that much, but trust me, exercising every day is a good habit to get in to for when you aren’t able to practice anymore.
Now, moving away from the old man speech, another important reason is the fact that sports compliment each other. In football, explosiveness, power and hand- eye coordination are important athletic components. Basketball and wrestling are the two perfect sports to improve those components.
For example, in basketball, there is likely no attribute more important to a player than hand- eye coordination. Oddly enough, the same can be said for a receiver in football. If a football player is unable to see where the ball is going to be or is unable to get his hands to that proper spot, he’s probably not going to see the field too often. For a basketball player, coordination is so important as the athlete needs to be able to work his or her way through defenders while controlling the ball and finding the open man for a shot.
In wrestling, explosiveness and power go hand-in-hand. If a wrestler is unable to explode into a takedown, they’ll struggle to find any success. If they don’t have the power to overmatch their opponent on that takedown, they’ll end up on the wrong side of the match.
Another reason to be a multi- sport athlete is for the athlete’s health. A recent study done by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that athletes that specialize in a single sport are nearly twice as likely to sustain a lower-body injury while participating in sports than multi- sport athletes. The most common injuries were to the joints of the leg, the ankle and knee.
While they did find that a good number of the injuries happened in season, the part that stood out about this study to me the most was that specialized athletes were twice as likely to sustain gradual onset and repetitive use injuries than multi-sport athletes. That means that athletes that choose not to participate in sports throughout the year actually are at a higher risk to have lingering injuries to the knees and ankles, the two types of injuries that seem to end more careers than any other.
While I can understand the argument for playing in a single sport, at least in the case of an athlete with college or professional potential, it is important for athletes to keep themselves active throughout the year. Playing in multiple sports gives them an opportunity to work various attributes for their favorite sport at a high rate throughout the year. It also helps them avoid debilitating injuries to the knees and ankles that can harm them well into their adult lives.
Bottom line: Kids, play basketball or go out for wrestling. Your body will appreciate it.
If you are like me and really can’t do either Winter sport, at least do yourself a favor and hit the weights. Don’t let your body get lazy for a full season. It not only puts you behind when the next season comes around, but its a missed opportunity. The area is full of excellent facilities at the schools and in the communities. If you choose not to use them, you are hurting your development and your chances at playing time.