Health – UConn Today
Competition for coveted athletic scholarships is prompting some young athletes to focus all of their attention on one sport at the exclusion of others.
But a new study out of the University of Connecticut shows that encouraging children to participate in a variety of sports and physical activities has its own distinct advantages.
The study found that exposing children to a variety of sports may lower their risk of certain injuries.
Children who engage in a variety of activities have more opportunities to learn to control their body in response to different physical demands. — Lindsay DiStefano
The report – published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Sports Health – is believed to be the first of its kind presenting clear scientific evidence supporting the benefits of sports sampling.
“If we want our children to be active for life so they are healthy and well, and if we want them to become good athletes, then we need to encourage kids to try a lot of different activities,” says Lindsay DiStefano, associate professor of kinesiology and the study’s primary investigator.
Young athletes who engaged in more than one sport in a given year were more than twice as likely to exhibit good neuromuscular control when performing certain landing skills as athletes who focused on one sport, according to the study. In a series of tests, 27 percent of the multisport athletes showed good landing coordination, compared to 11 percent for single sport participants. Good neuromuscular control when landing can prevent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, tendonitis, stress fractures, and other serious medical conditions that can hinder and/or delay an athlete’s performance.
Concerns about sport specialization are not new. Previous studies have shown that young athletes who limit their training to a single sport risk burnout, social isolation, and overuse injuries. Experts recommend that children don’t begin focusing on a single sport until they …