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On the Coast Magazine

Cross Training

03/02/2015 09:50AM ● Published by Paul Hunter

By Paul Hunter

I was looking back through my middle and high school yearbooks and found something. The kids that I remember being “jocks” were really “multi-sport athletes.” They might have been and frequently were better in one sport than another, but they played all of them. New season? New sport. There were of course a few who participated in only one sport, but what I found was these kids were active in different sports year round. I don’t even remember “travel ball” in my area. I played baseball in Little League, made it to All Stars and then the season was over. Then it was off to play other things...ride bikes, run through the woods, touch football, Frisbee, etc.

Now there is the term “cross training,” and it has been used for a long time and in many arenas. In the workplace, people are “cross-trained,” which benefits the organization in that fewer employees may be needed to perform the responsibilities of the business and benefits the employee because they are gaining multiple job skills making them more valuable and capable. In the athletic world, athletes gain skills from different areas making them more effective. Serendipitously they are able to read a play, follow a ball, tackle an opponent, regain balance in an awkward movement, make an “impossible” catch or tackle an opponent better than their peers.

On the converse, there is a trend in youth sports where young athletes are choosing one sport early on. Whether it is the athlete or the parent that decides that one particular sport is right for the youth could be a matter of convenience, previous history of the parent, success in that sport for the athlete or other influences. Focusing on one sport at an age when their bodies are still forming and increasing motor learning skills has some advantages and more disadvantages. “Athleticism” requires many skills that cannot be maximally learned in one sport. Specialism in youth sports limits the athlete and has shown to increase the risk of overuse injuries especially when that one sport is played year round with no breaks.

According to the report Preserving the Future of Sport: From Prevention to Treatment of Youth Overuse Sports Injuries, “since 2000 there has been a fivefold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players.” According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable. In a position statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, it summarized that “diversified sports training during early and middle adolescence may be more effective in developing elite-level skills in the primary sport due to skill transfer.” 

Is your child in youth sports and you think they are going to go pro?

Baseball

11.6% of college players play professionally
0.6% of high school players play professionally
High school players: 471,025 | College players: 31,264 | Draftees: 806

Football:

1.7% of college players play professionally
0.08% of high school players play professionally
High school players: 1,108,441 | College players: 67,887 | Draftees: 255

Men's basketball

1.2% of college players play professionally
0.03% of high school players play professionally
High school players: 545,844 | College players: 17,500 | Draftees: 48

Women's basketball

0.9% of college players play professionally
0.03% of high school players play professionally
High school players: 438,933 | College players 15,708 | Draftees: 32

Men's soccer

1.0% of college players play professionally
0.04% of high school players play professionally
High school players: 398,351 | College players: 22,573 | Draftees: 49 


I certainly do not want to ruin any dreams or discourage someone from working hard. You can get a lot more out of learning to work hard and developing a strong work ethic even if you never play at all. I once had a mentor encourage me to make a million dollars - not to have the million dollars but for what it would make of me.

One day your children will be adults and our job is to provide them the skills to be productive members of society. One way to do this is to encourage their participation in activities that will foster their growth whether it be sports, music or other arts. Sometimes we learn from other activities that we can bring back to our passion. I encourage your children to cross train and learn many skills while they are young.

Make it a Great Day! 

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