Page 69

"43% of NCAA players said they wished they had spent more time in other sports growing up." -Mayo Clinic and Urban Meyer (formerly) of Ohio State, have said that they look for athletes who played multiple sports in high school because that versatility speaks volumes about their overall athleticism. In the 2017 NFL Draft, 30 of the 32 first round draft picks (including all seven of Ohio State’s first round picks) said that they played multiple sports in high school. Even in Clarksville, there is plenty of evidence that this is true. One of the most impressive high school athletes last school year was Devyn Bender from Clarksville High. Bender played three sports, and he didn’t just make the starting lineup; he was named All-Region in football, and All-District in basketball and baseball. As a sophomore Bender made a “temporary” decision to focus most of his time on basketball, and during that time he suffered two knee injuries and an elbow injury. During his senior year, when he played three sports, he suffered one injury—a jammed finger in football (he was a receiver). After playing all those sports, he decided to play football in college, and is currently preparing for his first fall season at Austin Peay State University.

Fewer regrets This is as important to me now as an “older” adult as any of the other reasons not to specialize. I talk to kids all of the time—particularly those in smaller schools and communities—about the memories they are making as high school athletes. Their participation is important to the community at large. A kid with great capacity for athletic achievement can be the difference between his school’s team being competitive and having a losing record. In that same Mayo Clinic study, 43% of NCAA players said they wished they had spent more time in other sports growing up. In addition to Bender, there are many other stories of kids making the decision to play other sports even when it might appear to be a risk. In Pleasant View, Daniel Saylor is entering his senior year at Sycamore High School. Saylor is 6’10”—so yes, he is a basketball star. His “next level” sport is certain to be basketball, but his “favorite” sport growing up was soccer, so Saylor is on the Sycamore soccer team. His father, Dan Saylor, is a physical therapist with Star Physical Therapy, so he knows a little about sports injuries. “We (he and wife, Ann) have always encouraged Daniel to play multiple sports, and have not discouraged him from playing soccer,” Saylor said. “He has had some minor injuries, which were easily treatable, but the benefits of developing other skills besides those specific to basketball have made a tremendous difference is his overall development.” Less burnout Kids need to be allowed to be kids, and specialization turns the sport into more of a job—something they are not prepared to handle at a young age. Studies show that high specialization at a young age promotes higher stress and anxiety, social isolation, and burnout, which can ultimately lead to a kid leaving the sport before they reach their full potential. So, what should kids and parents focus on to avoid these pitfalls? • Don’t specialize before age 14. This will give the young athlete a better chance at being able to handle the physical demands of specialization and will lower the chance of burnout. • Get enough sleep every night. Rest and recovery are crucial to avoiding injury. Kids 7-11 should get 10-12 hours a night, and 12 and older need about 8-9 hours a night. • Take time off. Take significant breaks between seasons in the same sport, and limit the number of games and practices based on the athlete’s age. Kids 7-9 years old should not have more than one practice and one game a week. • Talk to an expert. Parents often have challenging expectations for their kids based on what they perceive others are doing. Talking to a youth sports expert can offer perspective.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR—Lawrence Gunnells is the president of Boom Sports Media TN, Inc., a Clarksville-based company focused on covering high school sports in Montgomery, Cheatham and Stewart Counties. You can find out more about the company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or by visiting their website at www.boomsportstn.com. www.vipclarksville.com • 69

Profile for VIP Clarksville Magazine

VIP Clarksville Magazine | August 2019  

Health. Beauty. Wellness. Adventure. Featuring local medical profiles, why The American Red Cross needs you, one of our new, favorite Nashvi...

VIP Clarksville Magazine | August 2019  

Health. Beauty. Wellness. Adventure. Featuring local medical profiles, why The American Red Cross needs you, one of our new, favorite Nashvi...