How to Become a Well-Rounded Athlete
How do you become a well-rounded athlete? What ways help to gain overall physical strength? How can you prevent burnout at an early age?
The answer to these questions is the same… Variety.
Many young athletes and parents believe more is better. Young athletes specialize in a sport at an early age. Not only do kids start at an early age in one sport, but they also specialize in one position.
Let’s look at the sport of soccer, for example. Some kids start soccer as early as five years old. A young player may choose to strictly focus on being a goaltender.
Young players attend soccer camps and play indoor and outdoor soccer throughout the season.
These young athletes go on to play travel soccer and spend increasingly more time practicing, working one-on-one with coaches, and training with strength and conditioning coaches.
By the time some of these players enter high school, they lose their passion for the game. Some develop overuse injuries that hurt their game for years. When those athletes are beaten out for a starting position, they are devastated.
They look back at the time and work they put in, their sacrifices, and it all seems like a waste. A lot of these players become burned out and quit the sport.
The belief is that if an athlete doesn’t start at an early age, they are at a disadvantage. Again, more does not mean better.
Parents and kids will hear stories of professional or Olympic athletes who started competing when they were young.
They don’t hear about the countless athletes who quit because they were fed up with their sport. Or athletes who had injuries forcing them to move on from competing.
In addition, they don’t hear of the athletes who had successful careers who started competing when they were 10 or 11. Or successful athletes who played multiple sports as a child before specializing in one sport in high school.
Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau is a well-accomplished NHL player. Huberdeau won the 2012-13 Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. He is the Panthers’ all-time leading scorer (588 points), is second in goals (189), first in assists (399), and has played more games in Florida history (656).
Huberdeau credits his successful hockey career to a broad sports interests as a youth, not specializing in hockey at an early age. Huberdeau enjoyed soccer, tennis, and basketball in addition to hockey.
HUBERDEAU: “I enjoy variety, and it’s always good to learn and play other sports. They give you other tools, and things you learn in other sports can help you in hockey. A lot of kids play hockey all the time, but for me, playing other sports taught me many things. I’d encourage kids today to do that too.”
Playing various sports and having interests outside of competing provides a more significant benefit for younger athletes. It builds physiological balance and a life balance that contributes to a healthy sporting experience and lifestyle.
Building a Positive Sports Experience
Remember the phrase “more is not necessarily” better, but more variety is beneficial.
It’s important to understand this philosophy. Think of the realistic risk-reward and know that success depends on balance.
Be careful of the expectations you might place on your athletes as this leads to feeling more pressure to perform well for coach.
Related Sports Psychology Articles
- The Mindset to Perform at a Higher Level
- Having Fun While Performing at Your Best
- The Importance of Mental Toughness
Download a free sports psychology report to improve your mental game!
The Relaxed Athlete
You can possess all the physical talent in the world, the best equipment money can buy, and train harder or longer than anyone else in your sport or on your team, but if self-doubt enters your mind prior to competition, you simply will not realize your true potential in sports.
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