Sports-Related Hospital Visits on the Rise Among Young People
However, he says, kids who participate in different sports during the different seasons "tend not to burn out as quickly, and it keeps kids excited about the sport."
The pressure to specialize also fosters the 'win at all costs' mentality, says Thompson, also the author of Positive Coaching: Building Character and Self-Esteem Through Sports.
This focus on winning has resulted in a rise in youth sports violence and parental violence at youth sporting events -- all of which can increase the rate of sports-related injuries and hospital visits.
"When parents are on the sidelines and see their child's team not doing well, they look for a scapegoat like a referee, a coach, or the other team. This misguided sense of 'I have to protect my kid so he or she wins' can make parents engage in negative ways with other parents, coaches, and officials," he tells WebMD. The result? Chaos.
Thompson tries to teach children and their parents to "honor the game" with such activities as a "Positive Play Day" to kick off a sports season. During this day, kids and adults pledge to respect the rules, opponents, officials, teammates, and traditions of the game.
"They still try to win," he says, "but they try to do it within the frame of honoring the game."