When young kids show an interest in athletics, parents often rush them into as many sports as they can arrange or afford. Soccer is certainly an early and inexpensive choice, Lacrosse is popular in certain areas of the city, Baseball is growing, Basketball, Football and of course Hockey. As the kids develop promising skills, wanting to choose just one sport to focus on becomes a desire, especially by the parents, who want to see their kids focus on one thing they can be most productive with.
Hockey is one of those sports where an early choice needs to be made if high level play is a goal. It’s an intensive sport to participate in, between games, practices and tournaments, kids could end up spending 5 to 6 days per week at the rinks — families too. Hockey has also become a year-around sport stretching well into the summer months with dry-land training programs and week-long on-ice camps designed to develop kid’s skills to new levels. But is choosing a single sport at a young age the right approach? When does burn out occur — both mental and physical burnout? What if the child does not become a top performer but has spend years doing only the one sport?
Level of interest has been shown to be a strong driver towards success. Self-motivation is also important — otherwise the hard work does not get done. Without the right level of self motivation, intensive focus in a single sport ultimately becomes a waste of time (and money) for everyone involved. In some cases, the idea of participating in sports altogether becomes an issue. Interviews with top athletes reveal several things in common — the most relevant one is how many of them grew up being good at several sports almost to the age where they saw a path to being a professional in one sport. Their level of commitment to excellence remained high; the cross-training benefits drove them to new levels of success.
The All Sports program, unique to Everest Academy promotes diversity of skill. Kids come to the school with one sport in mind and quickly find that being able to participate and develop skills in other sports helps them cope with the boredom that a single sport sometimes brings, no matter how much they enjoy it. Lacrosse and Hockey pair together nicely as does Golf or Baseball and Hockey, especially at the end of a long season when the kids need a break but don’t want to stop sports altogether.
What we’ve learned from the families who pass through our doors is that you should encourage a multi-sport approach to raising promising athletes and maintain it for as long as you can. Interest levels stay higher, cross-training benefits are strong and if the student-athlete decides to change their primary focus, they have a secondary focus to fall back on that is not too far behind in overall skill and achievement. From a post-secondary perspective, more doors are open as the student-athlete looks to CIS and NCAA opportunities – after all, how many are really going to make a living as an athlete? Using high end athletics as a way to get great education is a win-win for everyone involved. If the student-athlete is fortunate and skilled enough to make a living at being an athlete, it’s a bonus (a big one I suppose).