Mixing it up: a smart move!
To better understand
We’re all familiar with the positive impacts of physical activity. However, the benefits of participating in multiple sports activities during adolescence is a less familiar topic. Whether your teen isn’t very active or he or she is very active, it’s a good idea to suggest they participate in a mix of activities.
There are several benefits from participating in multiple sports:
- Makes kids more interested in sports and more motivated to be physically active.
- Keeps them from quitting and burning out, which can happen when they participate in just one sport.
- Develops many physical skills that improve their confidence and their abilities through a variety of activities.
- Contributes to the development of various muscles.
- Reduces the risk of injuries and overuse injuries.
- Helps them recover more quickly after being active.
By trying out new sports, it’s more likely that your teen will find activities they love. It’s essential that your teen enjoy an activity to keep them active. Teens who have fun while being active will move more often and reap the benefits of an active lifestyle.
According to data from the Québec Health Survey of High School Students (QHSHSS) 2016-2017, only 37% of teen boys and 24% of teen girls get enough physical activity. A teen must get at least 60 minutes of sustained physical activity a day to maintain good health and fitness.
For parents of young athletes, it’s important to know that the American Medical Society for Sports encourages diversification in sports: “Diversified sports training during early and middle adolescence may be a more effective strategy in ultimately developing elite-level skills. 88 per cent of college athletes come from a multi-sport background.”
To better support
The multi-sport approach does not mean your teen has to practise dozens of activities every year. The goal is to try different activities that interest your teen and that fit with your family’s situation. Here are some tips to help you guide your teen.
- Start a conversation with your teen to find out whether he or she would like to try a new physical activity.
- Brainstorm with your teen about activities they’re interested in, even if the sports that interest them are not your cup of tea:
- Encourage your teen to consider what they like, their strengths and to do activities that help them feel good and have fun.
- Propose trying different categories of sports (e.g. snowshoeing, sliding sports, group sports, combat sports).
- Rather than encouraging your teen to practise just one sport for the entire year, suggest they discover and practise sports that are suited to the seasonal weather conditions:
- In winter, encourage your teen to participate in winter sports such as skiing, snowshoeing, etc.
- In summer, encourage your teen to try outdoor sports such as running, cycling, hiking, etc.
- Be open to the possibility that your teen may want to stop practising an activity that you enjoy as a parent.
- It may take your teen several trials to find physical activities they are passionate about or they may hesitate about making a choice. Be patient and listen to what they have to say.
- Tip: Ask for a trial period. Some sports organizations offer the possibility of trying out a new activity free of charge or at an affordable price.
- Encourage your teen to try multi-sport programs offered at their school open to everyone.
- Many schools offer intramural sports and some have gyms and training rooms that students may use during their lunch break or after school.
- Look into whether any recreational centres in your city offer open activities for teens, such as physical fitness classes, time at the skating rink, at the pool or a skateboard park.
- From time to time, get the whole family involved and try doing new physical activities together.
- Set up spaces in and around your home for moving (e.g. allow your kids to move the furniture in certain rooms, allow for movement (running, throwing, jumping, etc.) in certain places, etc.
- Make various sports items available so that your teen can try new activities (e.g. balls, rackets, frisbees, etc.).
- Dare to start a conversation: would your teen like to try new sports?
- Look into physical activities available at their school and in your city. Get your teen involved and, instinctively, he or she will look into activities that interest them.
Given the numerous benefits it offers, the multi-sport approach is a smart way to get your teen moving. As a parent, you can encourage your teen to rotate their activities; simply determine the possible options and be open to what your teen proposes. Support their choice to help them reach their full potential.
Resources and practical tools
1. For support:
If you are concerned about a situation, do not hesitate to reach out to a support worker or a healthcare professional:
Latest updates : November 2023