During their school years many children will end up playing more than one sport. While you may think that it is your duty as a dedicated sports parent to encourage them to pick a favourite and really hone their game, there may be benefits to encouraging them to become multi sport athletes.

The ability to excel in any sport all comes down to a player’s ability to move their body and use their brain. Each sport has different areas of the body and brain that it works, so allowing multiple sports to stress both the body and the brain in their own unique ways can lead to a player really excelling on the court.

Playing soccer can help basketball skill development

Both soccer and basketball are built upon the same common essentials: solid footwork, good balance and agility. It makes sense then that a player who takes an interest in both sports will be able to use their skills on both playing fields.

Soccer is a game that relies heavily on passing and teamwork, which are skills that basketball games would no doubt benefit from. While it’s possible a basketball player can dominate the court and try to play a mostly solo game, allowing soccer to teach them how to work with their team and make solid passes will only strengthen their ball game.

But will playing 2 sports (or more) hurt their basketball game?

Contrary to what you may believe, diversifying an athlete’s game play to include more than one sport can actually have many benefits to them, both on the court and off. The whole concept of specialization is one that is important – in mid-late teen years, not earlier. There’s plenty of research that supports this. In fact, the focus in nearly all youth sports – at the early ages – stresses balance and coordination. What youth athlete wouldn’t be better with better balance and coordination?

More opportunity to form connections

One significant benefit to a child joining a sports team is the connections they’ll form with their teammates. When they play multiple sports, this means that they’ll have multiple circles in which they’ll make friends and feel connection.

When an athlete plays games with more than one group of teammates, they’re forced to learn how to develop various interpersonal skills that they can apply to many situations in life.

Soccer can teach you to be a better teammate

In the game of soccer, it is absolutely essential to learn how to pass the ball, rely on your teammates to complete your plays and work together. While it may seem obvious that those things are also true in basketball, this sport makes it much easier to play a solo game and hog the ball. When a ball player spends time learning the rules of the soccer field, they are likely to bring those skills back to the basketball court, allowing them to play a more well rounded and team-oriented game.

Learn how to move without the ball

Basketball is a very fast game and when players get the ball it can be easy to hold onto it and play a 1 on 1 game rather than a team one. However, players often struggle with knowing how to move around the court without the ball in their hands. Since soccer is played on a much larger field, players become more adept at moving around their field without the ball. When a basketball player has the opportunity to play another sport like soccer, they bring the skills they learn back to the basketball court. And since basketball requires players to master movement both with the ball and without it, these are very complimentary sports.

It builds excitement

When an athlete plays the same sport year-round, playing games weekend after weekend, they can ultimately become desensitized to the wins and losses they experience, especially if them seem to do one of those consistently. Playing multiple sports with different teammates allows players to feel excitement as the pattern varies.

Helps kids to avoid burnout

Focusing on only one sport and one general skillset without the opportunity to find what is actually of interest to them increases kids’ chances of burning out and completely quitting the game altogether.

Youth sports are about having fun!

At the end of the day, kids play sports in order to have fun. If they want to include soccer in their athletic portfolio, it can be a great thing for their overall basketball development. However as long as they are having fun there is no negatives to allowing them to diversify their gameplay.