One of the most dramatic shifts in youth sports over recent years has been a shift toward single-sport specialization. Kids as young as 7 and 8 years old do not play multiple sports and instead play one sport year round.

Parents and coaches want young athletes to play only one sport

Parents and coaches use a fairly simple argument to push their kids to specialize in one sport. By picking one sport and training only in that sport, the young athlete would be more likely to excel at that sport. This specialization would theoretically make dreams of college scholarships and pro contracts more achievable.

Specializing in one sport increases the risk of injury for young athletes

That early single-sport specialization also increases the chance a child gets hurt. Any sport involves repetitive motions. Over time, those motions cause stress that can build up and cause overuse injuries. By allowing a kid to play different sports, stress is limited to one region of the body for a few months. The next sport then works other body parts. For example, the baseball pitcher who uses his shoulder and elbow for the spring season can let his arm rest while running in soccer over the summer.

Also read:
Take three months off from your sport each year
Concerns with early single-sport specialization in 4 youth sports

Swimmers and other athletes should play multiple sports.

The benefits when kids play multiple sports

Playing a variety of sports help kids develop skills they might not if they only play one sport all the time.

Plus, by playing a variety of sports, the child can really figure out for himself what sport he wants to play rather than the sport a parent or coach wants him to play. He might have more fun and avoid burnout.

As he gets older, and as his body matures, he can begin playing one sport year round.