Summer 2016 has been a great one for sport. The blend of football (Euro 2016) and the Olympics over in Rio has got us thinking about the proven benefits of youth footballers playing other sports.
To master a skill it is said that 10,000 hours of purposeful practice must be undertaken (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26384712). Practice is something we at Foot-Tech continuously encourage but does it only ever need to involve a football?
Looking at the elite players it is clear that they are experts with a football but they are also athletically advanced in terms of running speed, balance, coordination, agility, overall fitness and flexibility.
Just playing football will of course help in all of the above areas but a lot of evidence is suggesting that playing other sports can significantly advance a young players’ ability on the pitch.
Let’s consider some of the examples of players who were involved in other sports growing up:
Wayne Rooney says his boxing really helped his football development http://strettynews.com/how-wayne-rooney-could-have-been-a-t…
Gareth Bale played rugby alongside Sam Warburton (Wales Rugby Union Captain) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gareth_Bale
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a black belt in Taekwondo http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Zlatan-Ibrahimovic-taekwondo-b…
Joe Hart played Cricket for Worcestershire and could have gone pro http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/…/joe-hart-could-have-been-…
James Miler represented his school in long-distance running https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Milner
Theo Walcott set a 100m record at his high school http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-14253228
The list goes on and, unfortunately, we see this as something that is not viewed as important in a child's overall development. Some academies in the UK even forbid their young players from participating in other sports and, understandably, parents go ahead with it believing it to be the right thing.
Some will argue for and some will argue against. We are dedicated football coaches and love the game but we believe a combination of sports can help a young footballer. Clearly football would need to be the primary sport (or does it?) but adding other sports can be so beneficial.
Combat sports and martial arts are great for stamina and coordination, gymnastics is superb for core strength and flexibility, rugby helps with the development of team understanding and interval running…….we could list almost any sport and explain how they could help a young players’ football development.
So, if you don't already, consider encouraging your child/children to participate in other sports. They’ll move their bodies in new ways, learn new things and, most importantly, have another hobby in their lives to enjoy.
Who knows – if they don't get the chance to play in a Euro’s in the future they may just get the chance to go win a Gold Medal elsewhere!
If you would like any advice on the sports we recommend please speak to any of the Foot-Tech coaches or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org