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5 Sports that will improve your game

The opinion that children should specialise in one sport is greater than ever. The greatest difference between our sporting experiences and our children’s is that we were exposed to many different sports. This allowed us to develop movement patterns and experience unstructured play through multiple sport participation.

Specialising at an early age can result in falling out of love with a sport but also increase injury risk, increase the likelihood of burnout and narrow an athlete’s spectrum of athletic ability.

What if we could avoid this?

Encouraging a multi sport approach at a young age can reduce the potential issues above. Below we discuss which sports we encourage our players to do and why.

 

GYMNASTICS

Gymnastics teaches players about body awareness in movements and positions that they aren’t comfortable with. Gymnasts have great relative strength allowing them to produce and absorb high amounts of force.

Gymnastics teaches efficient landing mechanics as well as joint stability. Participating in gymnastics at a young age allows kids to develop whole body strength that can be progressed at a later age.

 

MARTIAL ARTS/BOXING

Martial arts have many physical benefits but the psychological benefits are equally huge. Participating in a martial art teaches kids to focus on certain tasks as well as improve self-confidence and worth. The physical benefits depend on the particular martial art. Power production is a key variable taught through kicking or punching movements.

The ability to produce power throughout the body is a key factor that can relate in to many sports. The ability to react to an opponent tests your reactive agility, which can also be used on the pitch when reading signals given off by players.

 

BASKETBALL

Basketball is a sport that includes countless accelerations and decelerations. T court size often determines this. Players will also complete a high number of jumps and landings.

These will range from bilateral to unilateral depending on the skill. For example a jump shot will generally include bilateral whereas a lay up may be unilateral. The court size also requires players to change direction a number of times. Players have to use fakes and rapid changes of direction to gain advantages over opponents.

 

TENNIS/BADMINTON

Racket sports like tennis or badminton challenge a player’s hand/eye coordination. Again the court size requires players to complete a high number of acceleration and decelerations.

Players must also move in all planes of motion and adopt unnatural positions to meet the demands of the game. Players have to again produce power throughout the body through the variety of shots they use. One major benefit of these sports is the eccentric strength of the player to decelerate and absorb forces and then produce high levels of force to reaccelerate again. You see this when players move across the baseline with great speed. This strength can be utilised in a game situation.

 

WRESTLING

Wrestling is a sport that requires great strength throughout the body. Wrestling tests a player’s balance, reflexes, strength endurance and agility.

When completing wrestling drills players must call on muscle groups that are similar to in a game when they come in contact with opposing players. Teaching players the fundamentals of wrestling movements can give players an edge in these situations.

 

Taking this multi sport approach develops many physical qualities that you require when player at a high level. Acceleration, deceleration, power, strength, agility are all key attributes of high-level footballers and they are all needed in the above sports. Learning these at a young age gives great physical potential to any youth players. There are also great links between highly developed physical players and highly developed technical players. This will only be enhanced if they are exposed to this approach at an early age.

Ben

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