Patriots players talk benefits of playing multiple sports

January 21, 2019 / CoachingSports Medicine
We write often about the benefits of playing a variety of sports. Numerous studies favor multisport participation for physical and mental health, yet some young athletes still believe specialization provides the best path toward a college scholarship.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady played basketball and baseball in high school. | Photo: Keith Allison

It’s always helpful to hear what professional athletes think, and The Boston Globe’s Tara Sullivan over the weekend provided some great insight from the New England Patriots locker room. Players like Tom Brady, a three-sport high school athlete who was selected by the Montreal Expos in the 18th round of the 1995 MLB Draft, believe young athletes should try to play as many sports as they can.

From The Boston Globe:

“I always enjoyed playing all the sports. I still do,” Brady said. “I think playing all the multiple sports was so great. I played a lot of basketball, a lot of baseball, a lot of football, a lot of dodgeball, kickball — wasn’t very good in English or math or any of those things, but pretty good with the ball in my hands. That was great, and that was a different time growing up where you could really focus on a lot of those things. Now, I think so many people are into these intense sports at such young ages, and I think the burnout factor for a lot of people and a lot of kids starting at a young age, that definitely happens.”

   » RELATED: 96% of players in the 2018 Super Bowl played multiple sports

Sullivan’s column goes beyond Brady. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski said most of the pro athletes he knows played multiple sports. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore mentioned the physical benefits that came with playing basketball and running track. Wide receiver Chris Hogan believed playing multiple sports helped with leadership and coachability.

“I’ve been very grateful to have a lot of people in my life that taught me a lot about being an athlete, being a competitor, all the stuff that I’ve carried over with me to this point in my career,” Hogan told The Boston Globe.

A study released last year found that specialization increases the risk of burnout and injury. Our own survey last summer found that more than 95% of high school coaches encourage their players to participate in multiple sports. They also said that parents present the biggest obstacle, often steering their children toward a single sport.

Professional athletes and coaches, including Joe Maddon, J.J. Watt, Jordy Nelson, Chad Pennington and Joe Girardi have voiced their concerns over specialization.

Read Sullivan’s column at The Boston Globe.

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