How Playing Multiple Sports Helps in Learning Multiple Subjects

Featured, Growth Mindset, Op-Ed

One of the challenges as a student is having to learn multiple subjects in any given year. Reading, writing, & arithmetic headline the classes. We need to have the ability to process different types of learning and apply that learning into solving tests and writing papers.

We all are born with natural tendencies toward a specific subject, however, it’s our ability to grasp each subject and apply what was taught that determines how well we do in a class. We need to know how to solve problems and essentially flip parts of our brain “on and off” as we navigate classroom to classroom during a given school day.

Just like playing multiple sports.

Some athletes are naturally inclined to excel in basketball, some in gymnastics, and others in swimming. Those natural strengths in one sport may not translate directly to immediate success in a different one. Playing multiple sports throughout a year may rotate our athlete from a sport they pick up quite easily to one they struggle with the basics in.

Almost like going from math class to English in back to back class periods.

I spoke with APEC Founder Bobby Stroupe on the physical & mental importance of kids playing multiple sports during this week’s Raising Competitors Podcast.

  • Improving your footwork & agility on the basketball court helps your route running in football.
  • Building your lungs on the soccer field helps your endurance in your next sport.
  • Playing softball improves your hand-eye coordination for volleyball

“When you go from playing soccer one time of the year to baseball to basketball to flag football to maybe dance or wrestling, you’re building such a diverse set of neural pathways, the possibilities for your body when you hit puberty are going to be vast.”

Bobby Stroupe

Playing multi-sports also creates learning opportunities for athletes to develop non-physical skills in:

  • Problem Solving
  • Teamwork & Communication
  • Grit

But most importantly, changing sports each season is an effective way to develop the ability to learn new skills – the most crucial of skills going forward in life.

Not “clicking” with this softball coach like you did your volleyball one? You’ll have teachers whose communication styles vary from year to year, or even class to class on a given day. Adults see this in dealing with one boss’ management style versus the next. You have to learn to adapt to different styles of teaching – and be bold enough to ask questions when you don’t understand.

Not grasping the basic fundamentals of football like you did swimming? Not everything in life we do will be easy from the start. I struggled in Calculus class – it wasn’t like every Algebra class I aced. I was quickly frustrated and dejected at my inability to quickly grasp concepts like I had in prior classes. However, I had to take that class, so I was forced to learn how I could study more effectively, swallow my pride and ask for tutoring help, and push through the discomfort in order to learn.

Just like I did when trying to figure out how to hit a curveball.

The physical benefits of playing multiple sports are plenty, but it’s the mental side – developing how to learn – that makes it crucial for our kids to play all kinds of sports.

Learning how to learn on the field is what helps you learn more effectively in the classroom.

Last modified: June 18, 2019

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