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Four Ways Playing Multiple Sports Can Help Your Child Become A Better Athlete

By USA Hockey, 06/16/14, 3:45PM MDT

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It's exciting to watch your children excel at the sports they love. Working hard toward a personal best or perfecting a specific technique are critical to success, but let’s not forget that playing multiple sports can be tremendously beneficial in the long run.

Branching out from just one sport offers youth athletes both physical and mental benefits, from enhancing current skills, to learning to appreciate the new skills required of a different sport. Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports, in partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance, has outlined four ways playing multiple sports can help your child become a better athlete and a more well-rounded person:

1. Mental Growth: Training in new sports can help open youth athletes’ minds to new experiences and, in turn, help them become better at their preferred game. When an athlete is accustomed to playing one sport, branching out to a new one may seem scary, but the challenge of learning a new sport can prove to be rewarding. And conquering that challenge may provide even greater confidence to fuel success in the athlete’s original sport.

2. Physical Improvements: Regardless of the sport your children most enjoy playing, many skills and techniques transfer across sports and complement each other. For example, water polo and softball both involve throwing, and both call for short bursts of energy, but water polo also requires sustained energy that can add a dimension of endurance that softball does not usually demand. The physical benefits of practicing new sports allows youth athletes to build upon their skills as well as discover previously unknown talents and abilities.

3. New Experiences: Many seasoned athletes know that playing multiple sports provides a great opportunity to gain perspective on different team roles and become a more well-rounded player. For example, if your child is the star forward on her soccer team, she might find it beneficial to learn a new role on a volleyball team.

4. Avoid “Burnout”: Parents can unknowingly put a lot of pressure on their kids to specialize in a sport or become ultra-competitive. Too much pressure can cause a child to become resentful, feel overwhelmed, or “burnt out” on a sport to the point of wanting to quit that sport – and maybe even quit all sports. Encouraging your children to take a break from one sport to try another can relieve stress and help their outlook.

It might be difficult to imagine your youth athletes starting a new sport, especially when they are good at the sport they love. But the love of the game can be the very reason that  you would suggest playing other sports, particularly once you realize how playing multiple sports can benefit your children’s mental health, fitness, and overall performance as they learn and grow athletically.

At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we constantly look for ways to celebrate the countless acts of responsibility and integrity shown by people every day. We created Responsible Sports, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance, as part of this belief to help ensure that our kids experience the best that sports have to offer in environments that promote and display good sportsmanship. We believe kids can learn valuable life lessons when coaches and parents come together to support winning on and off the field.

In an effort to benefit millions of youth athletes, parents and coaches, this article is among a series created exclusively for partners in the Liberty Mutual Insurance Responsible Sports program, powered by Positive Coaching Alliance.

©2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Positive Coaching Alliance. All rights reserved. This material may not be distributed without express written permission. Any reproduction in whole or part by and individuals or organizations will be held liable for copyright infringement to the full extent of the law.

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The USA Hockey Playing Rules are now available as a mobile device app! Check your Apple, Android, or Windows app store to download this playing rule app free of charge.

Check out the USA Hockey mobile-friendly online rulebook application! Enter usahockeyrulebook.com into your mobile device’s web browser to gain instant access to the USA Hockey Playing Rules (must have mobile or internet service).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules Casebook and other educational material can be found under the OFFICIALS tab at USAHockey.com.