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Why Your Little Leaguer® Should Put the Bat and Glove Down

Volume 3 | Issue 8 | August/September 2015 | Archive
Why Your Little Leaguer® Should Put the Bat and Glove Down
For most, the 2015 Little League® season has come to an end. We hope you had a wonderful experience filled with meeting new people, interacting with neighbors, and watching your Little Leaguers® and their friends participate in some fun competition. As we’ve written plenty of times in The Parent Connection, we, as an organization, believe it is important to put the bat and glove down for a well-deserved break. Little League International is a big believer in children playing multiple sports, and while some may choose to play Fall Ball, for example, it is our hope that parents not focus solely on one activity for their children. Playing different sports develops more well-rounded children, works different muscles, and provides different activities that children may become passionate about. We are not alone in this viewpoint. Below is a list of notable people who believe it, too.

Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals ManagerIt’s important to take time away from a single sport. Our guys take time off at the professional level. We keep track of their activity, and we tell them they need to shut it down. For kids, it’s even more important. Research shows that one-sport athletes are more prone to injury. Bobby Knight would recruit multi-sport athletes and would go watch his recruits play their secondary sport because he wanted to see them play a sport where they would not be the best, and needed to work to improve. With one-sport athletes, you risk burn out. I played three sports, basketball, football, and baseball, and went from one to another, but the changes made it feel like I had breaks. Also, when kids are young, they often don’t know what they want. And how do parents know what sports their kids may end up gravitating to? So it’s important to play several. My one son actually quit baseball, and went to hockey, convinced it was his future. Only when he was gone from that sport, did he realize he missed and loved baseball. He came back.

Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner and Graduate of Rye Little League (N.Y) - Sports was a huge part of my childhood. It was one of the ways I connected with my father, whether we were discussing the Knicks, the Yankees, or my own Little League games. There is so much that children can gain from participating in youth sports. Not only do sports build important lifelong habits and routines that stress physical fitness, they also teach kids important lessons about teamwork, integrity, and respect. I think it is important for kids to be able to explore their talents in a variety of ways, whether, just by example, it’s on the basketball court, the baseball field, the debate team, or the school newspaper. I’m convinced that a diversity of activities leads to better athletes and better people.

Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics Head Coach and Graduate of Zionsville Little League (Ind.) - I am a huge proponent of playing multiple sports as long as you can. I’m very much against the idea of specialization at a young age. I’ve seen guys burn out that have specialized at a young age. I’ve seen guys and gals find great passion when they play three sports all the way through just competing and finding their motivation. It doesn’t matter what the game is, they just like to compete, and be part of a team. The more opportunity you get a chance to compete, and be part of a team, the better.

Pat Connaughton, Notre Dame Basketball Team Captain (2015), and Graduate of Arlington Little League (Mass.) - I loved every second of playing Little League. I just had the best time. I come from a very competitive town; we all play hockey and baseball. I was really the only one playing basketball. I really believe that being a multi-sport athlete can help pretty much any person. Playing multiple sports allows athletes to develop different abilities and improve their game IQ in both sports. I also really think that it prevents injuries. If you are out there playing a single sport for 12 months out of the year, there is going to be wear and tear.

Deciding to play both basketball and baseball has been an extreme help to my career. In baseball, when you’re pitching, the catcher is in front of you, and there are seven players behind you, but on that mound, you’re alone. I think being comfortable in those situations has really helped me in basketball. While I have four other players with me on the court, when you’re at the free throw line or the game is on the line, I am more confident. That comes from my baseball experience.

Dr. James Andrews, World Renowned Orthopaedic Surgeon and Little League International Board Member - Parents need to realize that the number-one risk factor of arm injuries for our youth continues to be year-round baseball or softball. If parents understand the injury risk factors, it only takes common sense to be able to recognize what to do to decrease injuries. In the case of year-round baseball or softball, it is recommended that young players have at least two months off each year where they are not playing any type of overhead sports. Preferably, it is recommended three to four months off each year. Even professional baseball players get that period of time off, and certainly our kids are more vulnerable to injury than our mature professional players. Little League International has done a lot to educate their coaches, the players, parents, and grandparents to the risks involving fatigue and arm injuries, and what steps need to be taken to play the game safely.
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The Parent Connection - August/September 2015 - Archive