In the old days (meaning a mere generation ago), kids would sample various sports and usually play a different sport with each new sports season. In fact, that’s exactly how the “three-sport letter-winner” moniker was established. Since the 1980’s, increasingly more kids turned to specializing in one sport, and often they played that single sport year-round. Today, however, we are seeing an interesting trend resulting in a hybrid between the 3-sport letter-winner and the sport specialist: the 2-sports, same season athlete. Even the great Bo Jackson rarely had his sport seasons overlap, but that’s exactly what is happening today.
How can kids play 2 sports concurrently you might ask? Typically kids will play one school sport (i.e. soccer), while playing a second recreation/travel sport (i.e. weekend golf tournaments or fall baseball). If you think it’s a lot to do for most kids you are probably right; still, there are some kids who learn the life skills needed to succeed and find ways to multitask, organize, and dedicate themselves to the responsibilities of each team.
Some of the bigger concerns Sport Psychologists have around the 2-sport, same season athlete include risk for sports burnout, risk for increased likelihood of injury, and possible missed academic and social activities and clubs. These issues become amplified if the child is an above-average athlete where he or she is greatly depended upon by both teams, and there are (inevitably) time scheduling conflicts that end up hurting both teams.
Why the change?
One big reason why increasingly more kids are entertaining the idea of playing two sports during the same season has to do with the availability of youth sport opportunities today. Unlike the old days where sports were often confined to a season (with geography and weather playing major factors), today there are countless indoor athletic facilities that allow for year-round play. Additionally, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of premier and travel league options, once again providing for opportunities that simply weren’t available a generation ago.
What all this means is that if your child wants to play 2 sports at the same time there are probably many different leagues to choose. If, however, you decide to look into this option please keep in mind the following:
- As was already mentioned, more sports means greater chance for physical and emotional issues, including injuries and sport burnout. Not only will your child need to stay in top physical condition, he will also need develop mental toughness, too.
- Playing two sports at the same time will be a huge time commitment, so be sure to think through potential conflicts between the teams ahead of time and talk to the coaches about your concerns.
- Remember, the more sports your child plays the less time he or she will have to devote toward academics, activities, clubs, and volunteering — all important life experiences and things that colleges look favorably upon.