A recipe for success in youth sports

Hey Woodski!
Adults keep telling me I should play multiple sports but I just want to concentrate on one. Is that bad? All-In ToHoops, age 15 (male, basketball)

Dear All-In ToHoops,

If you like food the way that Woodski likes food, you’re going to love this: Quick, name one of your favorite foods that has five or more ingredients.

Got it? Now, imagine that one ingredient is missing and suddenly you hate the taste. Blah! Yuck!

Concentrating on one sport is like that. You need ALL the ingredients to focus on one sport successfully.

The single most important ingredient in this recipe is passion and love for your sport. If anything else motivates you the most, then you’re asking for trouble. For example, if your primary reason to focus on one sport is to maybe get a future scholarship, check yourself. It’s OK to dream for a scholarship, but it shouldn’t be the main reason for playing.

Second ingredient: skills and fundamentals training in your favorite sport.

Third ingredient: age-appropriate strength and conditioning exercises for all muscle groups.

Fourth ingredient: full recovery (sleep, restful downtime, frequent stretching, breaks from your sport, etc).

Fifth ingredient: an abundance of healthy lifestyle habits (such as emotional control, self-love, being able to ask for help, good nutrition, keeping it fun - don’t obsess over random mistakes, etc).

Do you have all five ingredients?

If not (or you’re not sure), work with your support team to make plans to get each one. Your support team could include parents, coaches, healthcare professionals, experienced athletes, friends, athletic trainers, mentors, etc.

If you’re not able to commit to working on all these ingredients consistently with the help of your support team, then playing multiple sports is probably better for you. Why? Because if you don’t have all the ingredients, you risk burnout or injury when you concentrate only on one sport. Yuck!

However, if you CAN commit to working on all these ingredients consistently with the help of your support team, you’ll be happier and a better athlete no matter if you play one – or multiple sports.

Enjoy creating your recipe and keep Woodski posted.


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The advice offered in this column is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor before making any changes in your diet, exercise or lifestyle choices.
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