Why multi-sport should be on every sport’s development menu
“Early sport sampling is better for ultimate skill development for most athletes and probably helps many athletes stay fresh and gives them the best chance of truly falling in love with a sport.”David Epstein
[If you are unfamiliar with the benefits of Multi-Sport and its adversary Early Specialisation, please scroll down to the orange headings to find out then continue reading]
GAME PLAY LEARN PROMOTES MULTI-SPORT AND DISCOURAGES EARLY SPECIALISATION
“BUT WHAT IF IT’S NOT PRACTICAL?!”
There is still legitimate reasons for specialising without even meaning to:
- The child shows an incredible passion for one sport or activity. It was as if they were born with it in their blood and are hooked from an early age. If they could do it all day, everyday, it would be their heaven. How do we avoid the pitfalls of early specialisation if thats all they want to do? Surely we want to encourage their passion?
- What if we only have time for one activity in a year? It’s a decent financial and time commitment for any one organised sport these days. Just as specialising has its dangers, so does overloading our children and family time trying to fit more sport and activities in for the sake of diversification!
SO WHAT IS THE ANSWER?!
WE BRING MULTI-SPORT TO OUR LEARNERS!
- The Organisation’s responsibility becomes crucial then to make sure their development environments include diversification and avoid specialisation. Leading the way is FC Barcelona as Europe’s largest multi-sports club.
- The Coach’s role also becomes vital to evolve from a specialist instructor to a Development Facilitator or Learning Designer who then becomes aware of protecting the athlete and applying diversity to their program to ensure the maximum benefits for a well-rounded athlete.
AS COACHES THEN WHERE DO WE START?
If you want some heavy recommendations – The late Great Horst Wein gives us some serious stats to challenge our current programs (From Optimal Youth Football Development Checklist Part 7)
It is recommended that 5/6 year olds should dedicate 90% of their session to multilateral games and only 10% to basic individual football activities. They should not be required to play in teams, not even in 2v2 games as this contravenes their egotistic nature at this age.
For 7 year olds half of their session should include multilateral games and the other 50% football games and corrective exercises for the shortcomings discovered in their simplified games. Each successive year the football specific element increases while the multilateral activities decrease by 10%.
This means Multi-Sport needs to become very comfortable to us as coaches of young learners. But why not be courageous and explore multi-sport further into the adolescent phase and even for the mature athlete?! There is, after all, plenty of learning transfer between certain sports – the football codes, basketball, , european handball are all ‘invasion games’ with similar principles and game integrity.
Try introducing a new sport to your learners next session, even if it’s just in the warm-up!
If you’re really adventurous…
LET’S GET DESIGNING!
MULTI-SPORT GAME DESIGN :
Designing Multi-Sport games can be awesome when you start to see the benefits first-hand and know you are looking after your athletes long-term development. Try ‘mashing’ a couple of sports together like we did with ‘ULTIMATE HANDBALL’ or make up your own!
For more Game Design including multi-sport Click Here
CHECK IT OUT! WE MADE Ultimate Handball FOR A FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
The Benefits of Playing Multiple Sports
BLOG REFERENCE #1: TRUESPORT.org
Jon Gomez gave us True Sport’s ‘Conversation with David Epstein’ (Author of The Sports Gene) who nicely articulates the benefits of multi-sport summarised here:
- Maximises athletic potential
- There’s evidence from successful athletes (e.g. Roger Federer) sampling in the early years
- Allows athletes freedom to find their true passion
- Character benefits of facing new challenges:
The philosopher Bernard Suits defined sports and games as ‘the voluntary acceptance of unnecessary obstacles.’
Epstein also alludes to early specialisation and it being the reason for burnout with multi-sport counter-acting through keeping an athlete ‘feeling fresh’.
DANGERS OF EARLY SPECIALISATION
Blog reference #2: Momsteam.com
If you haven’t heard of early specialisation, this blog from Moms Team Early Specialization: Nine Reasons Why It Is a Bad Idea gives a full list (pictured below) with further blogs for each issue well worth the read.
…MORE RECENT EVIDENCE FOR FOOTBALL
BLOG REFERENCE #3: THECONVERSATION.COM
Making Young Children Give Everything to Football Is a Bad Idea – Here’s Why by Jessica Pinchbech.
A must read for football lovers!