Why Multi-Sport Programs are Great

We live in an age of specialization that is influencing our education, work, play and even our children’s programming. This has affected children’s basic reading, writing, arithmetic, and athletic skill level. Many children are missing the fundamental building blocks needed to achieve their potential. Recent studies identifying children’s current lack of activity and fitness indicate a pressing need for children to develop an increased inventory of sport and recreational skills. Specifically, kids need to develop gross motor and athletic skills at a young age to develop the skills, knowledge, and habits to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

The hazards of specializing in sport and recreational activities at an early age are numerous. Two major health concerns are overuse injuries and negative effects to body development. The pressure of competition that often comes with specializing early can be overwhelming for children leading to emotional burnout and early exit from the sport or sports altogether. Child and family burnout from the demands of specialized programs is common with detrimental effects to diet, health, and general well being. It is important to realize that for most sports the chance of "making it" to the big leagues and making a living is less than the chance of being hit by lighting (0.02%). Specializing too soon can lead to not achieving the benefits for lifelong health, well being, and friends that sport and recreation are able to provide.  

Multi-sport programs are great for establishing gross motor and athletic skills and giving kids the confidence to try and play a variety of sports and recreational activities. Gross motor skills include running, jumping, throwing, catching, and striking. Athletic skills include chasing/tagging, dodging/deking, collecting/gathering, body movement, body manipulation, and equipment manipulation. These are sets of skill that are applicable to all sport and recreational activities.  

Multi-sport means what the name implies; kids learn a variety of sports and recreational activities. In a camp setting this means they would play a number of different sports each week. In a weekly class program, kids would learn a different sport each week.  

By participating in multi-sport programs kids will develop a varied repertoire of gross motor and athletic skills. They will develop their entire body in a balanced way and avoid overuse injuries. They will improve their overall athleticism that will serve them well in learning new sports or specializing later on. Steve Nash, the Canadian-born NBA basketball star, played soccer, hockey, and other sports well into his teens and is a big proponent of the multi-sport concept. Most importantly, it gives kids the confidence and skills to play a variety of sport and recreational activities for life.

Mike Perozak is the Founder and Director of Sportplay Inc. He has been operating Sportplay Inc., a multi-sport program for kids, since 2005. Prior to that he has been a personal trainer, worked with chronic high school non-attendees, integrated autistic kids into main stream high school, served as a staff in high risk group homes, and been a recreationist at the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital. Mike is a NCCP Level 3 Track and Field coach and has participated in a multitude of sport and recreational activities including track and field, cross-country running, triathlons, canoe tripping, white water canoeing, ultimate frisbee, hockey, soccer, volleyball, table tennis, yoga, Aikido, rock climbing, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, down hill skiing, snowshoeing, and more. For more info, visit: www.sportplay.ca.

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