As much as we all love the game of football, it can be important for coaches and parents to encourage young players to try different sports. This article highlights this can be beneficial when coming back to play football in the short and long term.

Improving basic motor skills

Parents and coaches should encourage young players to try different sports when they are not playing football, as they will begin to further develop their basic movement and motor skills.

Young players need to have good levels of coordination in order to develop in football. Therefore practising things like running, kicking, jumping, hopping, landing, falling, catching and skipping across a variety of sport will help them to achieve this. If a child focuses on just one sport it will be hard to cater for all these movements.

Reduce the risks of specialisation 

A lot of parents will encourage their children to specialise in football during their formative years so they can become the best that they can be in the short term. 

However, research shows that children who participated in a number of different sports during this period, often overtake those that specialised early in terms of their performance in the long run.

Also, a common situation that occurs with children who only play one sport throughout their youth is that they become bored with it and sometimes drop out of the sport altogether.

Interesting stats:

  • Children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injuries in young athletes according to pediatric orthopaedic specialists
  • Early sport specialisation is associated with increased risk of anterior knee pain disorders including PFP, Osgood Schlatter and Sinding Larsen-Johansson compared to multi-sport athletes, and may lead to higher rates of future ACL tears
  • Early participation in multiple sports leads to better overall motor and athletic development and longer playing careers

(Source - "Changing the Game Project" by John O'Sullivan)

Players find out what they really like…

As mentioned in the previous point, children may become disillusioned with a sport if they are constantly playing it all year round so it is useful to try new hobbies so they can see what really interests them. It may be the case that their passion is elsewhere and they want to pursue success in other sports which is great and should be encouraged.

However, in a lot of cases, children can engage in sports away from football and maybe not have the same levels of enjoyment as when they play football. Furthermore, despite gaining valuable experience from these other sports this realisation can reinforce a players ambition to succeed in football. 

Staying physically and mentally fit

As most coaches and parents know, the time players can spend training or playing with their team is limited at grassroots level, which in turn can limit the amount of physical exercise a young person gets.

Encouraging children to take part in other sports on different nights of the week can not only maintain a good level of fitness but it will allow them to meet new friends, engage in new and different social situations which will benefit their mental wellbeing.

Be a step ahead during the off-season

It can be the case that during the off-season from football, whether that’s in winter or summer, that playing other sports during this period can prove beneficial when returning for a new season.

Players who do this often feel refreshed to tackle new challenges on offer and are no further behind their counterparts who have played football all year round.

Having said this there is nothing wrong with keeping up consistent individual practice of football during these months. TopTekkers provides the perfect solution as players can train on their own terms, practice the techniques they want to or simply stay physically fit with the challenges in the ‘Fitness’ and ‘Move To Improve’ sections for the app.