Many youth sports programs are taking a year round approach. There has been a marked increase in Fall Baseball, and year round basketball leagues. More and more kids are being pressured to choose one sport to specialize in as early as age 8-9-10.
Quite often this pressure seems to come from youth coaches trying to gain an advantage with their teams.
Some parents seem to also be accomplices in this trend, thinking this extra time will somehow lead to a college scholarship.
Most of the top athletes of all time were multisport athletes. Jackie Robinson played football, baseball and ran track while at UCLA. Darrin Erstad was a 3 sport athlete in High School and played football and baseball at the University of Nebraska before being selected as the first pick in the baseball draft of 1995. Danny Ainge of the Celtics was great baseball and basketball player and played both professionally. Dave Winfield of the New York Yankees was a 3 sport athlete in High School and was drafted by pro basketball, baseball and football teams.
Playing a variety of sports helps develop skills that just one sport can not accomplish. It helps the youth player develop a variety of personal friendships rather than being stuck in one “click”. Most importantly many youth players “burn out’ and never end up playing their “chosen” sport because they just get sick of it. By not going year round or multi season with one sport, the player develops a real desire to play that sport. Just like the entertainer leaves the audience “wanting more”, the youth football player should at the end of the season still be “wanting a little more”. You want them to come back, you can’t do that if they burn out on too much youth football. Because of this, I’m opposed to year round of even spring tackle football for youth football players.
I love getting wrestlers and track kids on my youth football teams. Get yourself as many pitchers or catchers as you can, they are often my QB/Tailback and blocking back respectively. Encourage your youth football players to try every sport out there, basketball, baseball,swimming, hockey, martial arts, wrestling, gymnastics, lacrosse, they are all good. I also encourage them to get involved at church, scouts, drama, choir, music etc. Let them find something they have some natural affinity towards and that they enjoy doing.