I've long been a proponent of young athletes playing multiple sports. There are so many benefits to learning different skill sets, playing with different teammates, and taking mental and physical breaks from the daily grind.
As summer and fall youth baseball seasons were winding down, I received a lot of questions about what to do in the off-season to help get ready for next season.
I always begin my answer to this question with "take some time off" followed closely with "play another sport." And then of course we talk about lessons, strength and conditioning, family time, etc.
I recently saw a Facebook post in a youth baseball group essentially downplaying the importance, or need, for playing other sports. I use this episode to refute his claims and explain why your son should be playing multiple sports in the baseball off-season.
What Comes First, the Chicken or the Egg?
Kids aren't just born elite athletes. Sure, there are freaks of nature that are born with more natural size, strength, speed, and agility than others, but they don't just come out of the womb ready to play in the MLB, NFL, or NBA.
They are elite athletes because they played multiple sports early and often - and mostly with less structure and training than we have today.
Again, and as I always say, there are exceptions. But these guys were born into families that encouraged being outside playing with balls of all sports, spent the time learning by doing, and kept their bodies moving at different speeds and in different directions for much of the year.
There are others that spent their time outside the house playing football, basketball, baseball, or any other ball that would keep them away from their unfortunate situation inside the house. Often it kept them out of trouble. And the byproduct was becoming a better athlete.
What if my son doesn't want to play other sports?
Why even give them the option when they're young?
It's not an option at my house. I literally tell my son every year, "I don't care what you do or play, but we're going to do some activity that keeps you moving and busy."
Can we just do strength and conditioning?
Well, you can. But there are at least two likely issues with this.
One, it's expensive. The average parent, myself included, does not have the expertise or the facilities to do this correctly. To get what you need out of it, you need to go at least 3 times per week.
That's going to run you MINIMUM $100 a week.
Why not pay $150 for the whole basketball season, practice or play 3 days a week, learn new skills, put them outside their comfort zone, get coached by new unfamiliar coaches, and do something different?
For way less money.
My opinion based on experience
Bottom line, your son might actually end up a Major League Hall of Famer having only played baseball his entire life.
But in reality, there's a close to zero percent chance he ends up a Major Leaguer anyways, no matter what he does.
Just as high schoolers aren't equipped to determine their ultimate career path, nine year olds aren't equipped to know what's best for their athletic development.
Get them experience in uncomfortable situations. Let them practice playing for coaches they don't know. Encourage them to do things they aren't really good at. Put them in a position to learn to compete in many different situations.
There's very little downside to playing multiple sports, and t
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