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How to Manage Being a Multisport Athlete

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These days, it seems like everyone is exclaiming the benefits of being a multisport athlete. And, it’s true, there are many benefits to playing more than one sport growing up. Experts suggest that it prevents overuse injuries, which are the result of repeating the same motions over and over again. It can also lead to less burnout in young athletes. Plus, it makes kids more well-rounded, increasing their overall agility, strength, stamina and sports IQ. And there are so many other reasons for athletes to seriously consider playing more than one sport.

Being a successful multisport athlete takes a lot of effort and planning.

While the benefits of sports diversification (or playing multiple sports) are great, the key is to be smart about it. Lingering injuries from too many games and practices and poor grades because you’re too tired to do your homework at night can both mean the end of your college recruiting. Follow these steps to maximize the impact of being a multisport athlete.

  1. Figure out what kind of multisport athlete you are. There are essentially two different kinds of multisport athletes. The first type includes athletes who are equally invested in every sport they play, which means that they divide their time up evenly between each one. The second type has one primary sport, which is typically the sport the athlete is better at. They place more training and emphasis on the main sport and the others are considered supplementary.
  2. Map out your sports calendar according to your athlete type. The biggest crime a multisport athlete can commit: Playing two sports in one season. This can lead to serious injuries and burnout, among other negative effects. For athletes equally invested in multiple sports, this might mean making some tough choices if they fall in the same season. If you find yourself in this situation, look for recreational leagues or intramural teams provided by your local YMCA or park district that play their games in a different season. If you have a primary sport, search for other sports that compete during your offseason. For example, football players (fall season) might consider joining the track team (spring season).
  3. Build in rest time between seasons. Going from one season directly into the next one is exhausting—and a great way to develop serious injuries. Take the time to see how your body feels and take care of any injuries. If you allow something like shin splints or tendonitis to linger, it will only get worse over time.
  4. Be honest with your coaches and parents. Coaches sometimes want their players’ time throughout the year, but as a multisport athlete, you have other sports to play! If you start to feel pressure from your coaches to work on their sport year-round, let them know that you have commitments in the offseason that you can’t turn your back on. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed by having to keep on top of schoolwork and athletics? Let your parents know so they can help you figure out how to make your schedule more manageable.

For more information, check out our recruiting guide for multi-sport athletes.