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Should kids focus on just one sport?

In today’s world where seemingly everything is becoming specialized and people are looking for any advantage they can get, it’s no surprise that parents are also looking to give their children an advantage when it comes to playing sports. But what’s the best way to do that?

In most cases, it’s easier for kids to play organized sports today than it has been in the past. There are more facilities, more opportunities and a whole lot of demand for all kinds of different sports for children. However, there’s also some debate about what’s the most effective way for a child to succeed and ultimately have the chance to become a professional athlete.

Should kids specialize in one sport from a very young age and just stick with it, or should they play multiple sports? Which is more effective in giving kids the best chance to ultimately be successful in sports and have a chance to become a pro? It’s a question that doesn’t seem to have an easy answer.

Nashville Predators rookie defenseman Seth Jones grew up as the son of an NBA player but chose to take the hockey route instead of the basketball route. He’s also a person that, despite being the son of an NBA player, grew up essentially playing only hockey as far as organized sports were concerned. Jones is an example of someone who essentially played just one sport growing up, but he’s not willing to say that’s the most effective way for kids today.

“Whatever is best for the kid, I think” Jones said. “If they want to play one sport, then I think that’s perfect and if they want to play multiple sports I think that’s just fine as well. I played hockey. I mean I pretty much played only one sport so I can’t say what’s right or wrong, but I played lacrosse for about one and a half years and that was pretty much it.”

Eric Nystrom represents the other side of the argument. Even though he was the son of an NHL player, Nystrom played all kinds of different sports growing up until his hockey career really took off. He’s a player that has a tremendous passion for the game of hockey, and he thinks that kids specializing in one sport can actually be detrimental to their passion for that sport.

“I played everything growing up,” Nystrom said. “I think now it’s overkill. Those poor kids are playing hockey all year round. They’ve got private lessons, private coaches. When you play other sports, you develop skills that can help you in hockey and you don’t get burned out and you still love the game. I think a lot of kids now play it and they don’t have that desire, and a huge part of this game is loving every day that you come here and loving the game. I think a lot of that is getting lost.”

Nystrom’s feelings are not uncommon when it comes to this debate. One of the most common arguments made against kids specializing one sport is that it will eventually cause them to get burned out and grow tired of the game. However, that didn’t seem to happen to Jones.

“Not really, no. When you’re young, you don’t get tired. It’s one of those things where you’re not tired until after you get home and lay down and pass out. I enjoyed every minute of hockey growing up,” Jones said.

Even though Jones specialized in one organized sport growing up, he did play other sports around the house with his two brothers Justin and Caleb, which was very important to him looking back on it.

“You always have someone to play with or against,” Jones said. “It was competitive all the time so that’s probably where I get most of my competitive nature from. We played lots of sports. Basketball, hockey, whatever it may be. Anything we did was pretty competitive.”

The debate on whether or not kids today should play multiple sports or specialize in just one isn’t one that’s going to go away anytime soon. After all, there are examples even on just one NHL team of success stories from both sides of the argument. However, there doesn’t appear to be a clear advantage either way. It’s been proven that it’s possible to become a professional athlete by specializing in one sport, and it’s been proven that it’s possible to become one when not specializing in one sport. Heck, it’s even been proven that it’s possible to become a professional athlete in two different sports.

Parents are going to have differing opinions on what is the best route for their child to take, and children are going to have their own opinions about which route they should take. That seems to be the best way to approach this issue. Every situation is different, which is why there will never be a definite answer either way. It all comes down to what the people involved in that decision want to do, and that makes for an interesting debate on which way is the most effective for kids to be successful.

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