“Every kid should take gymnastics! It makes them better at every other sport!”
“Every kid should learn to swim before they’re two! Babies are natural swimmers!”
“Every kid should wrestle – they’ll learn confidence and gain strength!”
If your kid plays a sport, you’ve probably heard some opinions on why that sport is ‘best’ for kids. The reality is that they’re all pretty good–but doing more than one is best.
If you want to help your kid live a healthier life, your top priority is to help them find something they love to do. Forget about what’s “best” — if they love to play, they’ll keep doing it even when you’re not around to drive them to practice.
Exposure to multiple sports, especially when they’re young, will help them find something they love.
Even better, it will make them a better athlete when they DO pick a primary sport.
You can read more about the dangers of “early specialization” here: http://journal.crossfit.com/2014/09/fitness-through-sports.tpl
Kids who ONLY play hockey year-round, for example, suffer more overuse injuries and burnout. They also develop hockey skills more slowly. But the most important thing for me is that kids who play on advanced teams–like AAA or AA –when they’re young are more likely to quit sports altogether before age 13.
Since most of our kids will never play at a professional level, we should look at sports as an investment in their life-long health. And the best return on that investment is to play lots of different sports; to focus on building an athlete, not just a player.
In our Kids and program at No Excuses CrossFit, we focus on building all-around fitness. To me, the only thing more important that building a strong, balanced athlete that the kids learn to love being healthy and fit, and love the process of getting there. Yes, the program will make them better at hockey. But even better, it will keep them engaged in fitness when their hockey career ends.
Sure, winning some games will keep them encouraged. But all of the important lessons that we want our kids to learn from sport really come from the losses: self-discipline, dealing with disappointment, acting honorably when we’re on top, working with a team…it’s a long list. Sport is a great shortcut to develop those skills. But none of them happen if the kids quit too soon. More important than going far in hockey is finding something they can keep playing forever.