What do football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, and NBA championship player and coach Pat Riley have in common? They all played multiple sports.
Jim Brown played lacrosse and basketball and ran track at Syracuse University; Sandy Koufax played basketball and baseball at the University of Cincinnati; and basketballer Pat Riley was drafted as a wide receiver by the Dallas Cowboys.
These elite athletes are living proof that playing multiple sports in your youth can keep you in your chosen game longer and in better health.
That's confirmed by a recent study titled "The Effects of Playing Multiple High School Sports on National Basketball Association Players' Propensity for Injury and Athletic Performance," which focused on 237 athletes.
Researchers from University of California San Francisco found that those players who participated in several sports before turning pro were less likely to have major injuries (25 percent vs. 43 percent), and were able to play more years than even the best of their single-sport peers.
For parents of high-school athletes, the message is loud and clear:
• Encourage your children to play multiple sports.
• Follow the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and avoid single-sport specialization until your teen is 15 to 16.
• In addition, encourage your young athletes to take at least three one-month breaks from their sport during the year. They can remain active in other activities during this time.
Young athletes who take one to two days off per week decrease chances of injury.
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