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Coaching Tips

Should Young Athletes Play More Than One Sport?

Is playing more than one sport a thing of the past? According to this article by renowned college coach Terry Pettit, it shouldn’t be.

Pettit writes: “The more neurological pathways a young athlete has experienced, the more likely they are going to be able to adjust in the future, which is why developing athletes should be encouraged to play more than one sport.”

Not everyone follows this advice. One of the most frequently asked questions comes from parents who want to know whether their athlete should specialize or diversify.

Pettit has a simple answer.

“The best collegiate, and Olympic players are almost without exception multi-sport athletes early in their career,” he writes.

Coaches, naturally, can get selfish on this question. Most would prefer their athletes to play their sport 12 months a year.

On the other hand, in small schools, sports programs could barely exist if their athletes played only one sport.

I’d love to hear more about the science. Does anyone know anything about the “neurological highways?”

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works one-on-one with student-athletes on skill-building and game performance. He is co-author of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.”


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