Posted on February 05 2018
By Julio Arvizu
THE MULTI-SPORT & CROSS TRAINING ADVANTAGE
It's 2018, NEW YEAR, NEW YOU! At least that's the word around these streets.
Unfortunately by the time we hit February, most are back to their regular selves eating the foods they swore they would stop eating and doing the activities (or lack thereof) they swore they would stop doing.
However, this year will be different for you.
And with Fitness trending in the right direction it’s apparent that more people are at least attempting to be proactive. What was once a niche hobby has now become the norm and for many sticking to one form of fitness or sport is not enough to keep up with the ever increasing demands of today.
Just in case you missed the memo, here are a few reasons why you should not only get into fitness and get moving but why you should diversify your movements through multi-sports and/or cross training.
- You develop different skills as an ‘All-around’ athlete -- Every sport and discipline is different (obviously). That means they have their own set of forms and focuses putting you through various situations that will test your resilience and ability to perform and compete. The diversity of movements and practices will lead to better muscle, motor and skill development overall. For example, if a football player runs track or plays basketball, he can further enhance his footwork ability and hand-eye coordination. If a cross-trainer does yoga, he/she can learn breathing and focus techniques that can potentially maximize their practice and ultimately help in being a better all-around athlete.
- Reduce risk of overuse related injuries -- Overstressing your body by constant repetitive movements can lead to more often injuries. For a pitcher in baseball, overuse could mean more serious issues like Tommy John’s or shoulder problems. For a weight lifter it could mean muscle strains, pulls and degenerating the joints and tissue around them.
- Minimal burnout -- That same monotonous repetition can lead to emotional burnout as well. Specializing raises expectations from others as well as yourself and without that added pressure, mixing up the experiences will keep things interesting and keep athletes engaged within their activities.
- Active Recovery -- Many athletes use alternate training disciplines to actively recover from their rigorous primary training methods. For example, many professional athletes will use swimming resistance workouts or yoga stretches which have been shown to speed up recovery by increasing blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to stressed or damaged muscle tissue.
Case Study -- See what the experts say.
In an effort to answer this question, a 2016 study by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), funded a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. What did they find? “Athletes who specialize in a single sport sustain lower-extremity injuries at significantly higher rates than athletes who do not specialize in one sport. Lower-extremity injuries were defined as any acute, gradual, recurrent or repetitive-use injury to the lower musculoskeletal system.”
This study was conducted at 29 Wisconsin high schools involving more than 1,500 student-athletes equally divided between male and female participants.
This is one of the many studies related to the dangers of sports specialization conducted in recent years. The conclusion: “Multi-sport participation can lead to better performance, less burnout, less social isolation, and most importantly, more lifelong enjoyment in sports.”
Fun Fact: 30 out of the 32 first round picks in the 2017 NFL draft were multi-sport athletes in high school. Clearly there are benefits to being a multi-sport/disciplined athlete, if some of the most talented professional athletes in the world competed in various sports during their off seasons.
STACK (stack.com) recently caught up with Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints during his offseason training session. The 10-time Pro Bowl and Super Bowl MVP quarterback had this to say regarding the topic.
“You name a sport, I probably played it. When I was a kid it was football, basketball, baseball, soccer, track, tennis. If there was a sport to be played, my brother and I were playing it. If there's one thing I could say about youth sports, I think kids specialize too soon. I get all this travel ball and everything else, but I think that could be counter-productive. Because it forces these kids to feel like they need to specialize so soon, and they stop playing sports that they love and sports that can help them be better at their main sport.
I credit tennis for a lot of my footwork in the NFL. I credit baseball and basketball with certain fundamentals and athletic movements (that relate) to what I do as a quarterback. You tell me the season, I'll tell you the sport you should be playing. Kids should be playing as many sports for as long as they possibly can. Don't feel like you have to specialize anytime soon. Because what you don't realize is that all the sports combined is what makes you the athlete that you are. And eventually, you will have to specialize. But once that time comes, you will benefit greatly from all those other sports you played.”
While we believe there are great benefits to a movement diverse lifestyle, there is no wrong in specializing and having a single sport focus. Every situation, time and athlete is different so these are just a few points to help you as you decide on which athletic path to take.
If you are a professional or collegiate athlete, it’s obvious focus on your primary sport/practice will pay dividends, however don’t forget to mix in a little active recovery activities to help you throughout the year.
And if you’re looking for the right gear to mix in with the right disciplines, whether it be cross training, yoga, running, weight lifting, etc, then make sure to check out some of HollowRock's men & women new releases that will compliment you on your fitness journey.