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Part 2 on children specializing in sports

In the last edition of the blog, I talked about how children should play a variety of sports. I want to take the time to unpack the topic a little more because this is important.

Here are some specific examples of how skills can crossover between sports

  • Hitting a baseball can improve the vision and reaction time needed for basically all sports
  • Playing basketball improves the ability to cut, stop quickly, and control your knees which a skier might need.
  • A track runner uses explosive, quick starts off the blocks that a football player needs at the start of a play.
  • Volleyball players need a vertical leap and quick lateral movements, just as basketball players do.
  • Gymnasts work a lot on flexibility and precise rotations, as would a diver.
  • Mountain bikers need to have a solid core and balance, which would easily translate into most any sport.

These are just a few. The beauty of the whole thing is that it works on these skills without the mental fatigue of constantly working on the same tasks. If you can work on my core strength and balance with a mountain biking trip or kayaking trip, it gives an athlete a break from constantly having a strengthened core during a regular gymnastics routine.

By varying training, your children have the ability to improve their athleticism without placing the EXACT same stress on the body. So let’s take the example above of basketball and volleyball.

If you have a child who is playing both, they are developing hip strength, calf strength, and general ability to control where their body is going, but those movements are not 100% the same. This lowers the risk of overuse and injuries down the road. That is a statement that is backed up by numerous research studies. I think marathon runners have this idea down better than anybody. It is built into almost every running program that cross-training days need to happen frequently. They take a day to swim or bike or ski or something else that builds up cardio endurance without actually running.

Learning new skills also gives mental confidence to your children that they can achieve anything. It feels good when you figure out how to create solid contact on a baseball/softball swing or make a free throw or roll a kayak. Confidence will translate into their main sport.

Sometimes other sports can help develop a whole new skillset that coaches in your child’s primary sport weren’t even working on. I shared an article on NFL QB Patrick Mahomes last week on social media that went in-depth on his journey as a multi-sport athlete.

Check out the link to read it. It is a great article and covers so many ways where sports like baseball and basketball made him a unique and special professional quarterback.

Please take this information, digest it, do your own research on it, and apply it to your life and the lives of your student-athlete if you have one in your home. You will thank me later for it.

Thanks to you for taking the time to read! I post blogs every other week on Tuesday about sports and how to perform your best! If you’ve got questions, email me at, contact me on social media, or fill out the contact form on this website!

a man standing with his arms crossed in front of him.

Dr. Scott Runyon

Backcountry Physical Therapy

We Help Mountain Athletes Not Only Recover From Injuries, But Build Them Back Stronger Than They Were Before, So That Injuries Are Less Likely To Happen Again!