I remember as a teenager growing up in England thinking that we live in such a contradictive world. When you are trying to establish yourself at school or starting a career, you were told that that “It’s a big wide world out there.” However, when you met somebody who where acquaintances with people you knew it turned out to be a “small world”. The one that frustrated me the most was when I would do something wrong and as a kid and would turn around and say “well my friends did it” the response I received was “I don’t care what they do.” However when your friends did something good for their parents your parents would highlight that, which left me thinking- what am I supposed to do?
Contradiction still seems to find me, it many different forms and makes me wonder what is the best approach to take. Back in October I sat in a meeting with my fellow peers to discuss some new coaching material and while brainstorming, led into a discussion about children playing multiple sports. As you may be aware from some of my previous blogs I do have my own child playing multiple sports and do see some benefits to getting children involved in more than one activity. Playing multiple sports provides many benefits; learning the fundamentals of athleticism as a whole develops different movement skills, improves speed and agility, and helps to develop core strength they may not get from just one sport.
As I seem to be playing devil’s advocate I ask the question “What other sports do kids in Brazil, Spain and other nations play?” These countries seem to be producing world class soccer players and all the time we wish that the children in the US would play street soccer and play more often like they do in these nations. There has to be a happy medium found as we want kids to play soccer, but we don’t want to over exert them. We want kids to play multiple sports but what if they focused on playing soccer only? Could the US start producing world class players?
I am not sure I have the answer as I see the importance of playing multiple sports. However I do believe it should be kept to one sport a season. With that said, I contradicted even myself as I also feel obligated to help produce better soccer players within this country. The US is a nation that loves its sports, hence why there are five major sport leagues. The percentage of those that make it into the elite level is very slim but with the sporting society in the US being different it is obvious that parents want kids to play multiple sports. I will be the first to admit that I have been reluctant with former players about playing other sports and even started down the same path with my own child. Still I wonder why some coaches are never open to realizing that there are some benefits to it. One thought is if a child only plays one sport a season it can also allow them to play other games in the streets (were the world’s best players learned their trade.)
With time my opinions may shift greater to one side of the argument. I do feel obligated to help kids gain a passion for soccer and keep trying to build a bigger pool of elite players in this country. But through playing multiple sports at younger ages, they can surely gain athletic and life skills to help them when they decide to specialize in soccer as an elite soccer player. As the game continues to grow in this nation, who knows, maybe more and more athletes will focus on only one sport.