Many high school athletes put their heart and soul into their favorite sport to focus on being the best. Commitment to sport is essential to improve. However, recent research suggests that cross-training can boost athletics in the primary sport.
What is Cross Training
Cross-training involves practicing different sports, activities, and exercises to help athletes develop their strength, agility, speed, and explosiveness in new and exciting ways.
By participating in various sports and physical activities outside of one’s primary sport, an athlete can take their athletics to a whole new level. It will enhance your perspective and perception.
1. Injury Prevention
Cross-training is vital for high school athletes because it helps prevent injuries. When athletes focus only on one sport, they can strain specific muscles and joints too much, leading to injuries. Cross-training allows athletes to exercise different muscle groups and avoid overusing the same muscles. For example, a swimmer can row or cycle to improve endurance and strengthen their core and leg muscles. Also, this helps the body stay healthy and prevent swimming-related injuries. Similarly, learning dance can improve footwork for sports like soccer and football.
2. Enhanced Physical Fitness
The body gets used to the training when training in the sport constantly. Engaging in various physical activities can improve overall fitness by boosting cardiovascular endurance and stamina. This leads to better fitness levels overall. This improved fitness can positively affect their primary sport by making it easier to keep up with the game’s physical demands.
3. Skill Transfer
Participating in various sports and physical activities is an excellent way to exercise the brain. It challenges it to learn new motor skills, strategies, and environments, creating new brain connections. This constant mental workout helps utilize more of the brain’s potential. Think of it like unlocking the brain’s performance. Although each sport has its own set of skills, some fundamental abilities are useful across different sports. For instance, agility, balance, speed, and coordination are crucial.
By trying out different activities, high school athletes can develop and refine these critical skills, giving them an edge in their primary sport. For example, practicing soccer drills can help a basketball player improve their footwork and agility, leading to better on-court performance. Similarly, ballet training can enhance stability and increase strength and speed.
4. Multi-sensory Input
Cross-training is a great way to improve overall performance by exposing the brain to various sensory inputs. This can include things like sound, sight, and even physical sensations. Challenging your brain to adapt to these different inputs increases your brain’s flexibility and ability to learn new things. For example, cross-training with other sports can help you develop better hand-eye coordination and reaction times.
5. Enhanced Cognitive Function:
Cross-training improves cognitive function, such as increased attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities. These cognitive enhancements indicate positive changes in the brain’s structure and function.
6. Stress Reduction:
Stress is known to impede learning and performance. By providing a break from the rigors of a single sport, cross-training can help reduce stress levels and improve thinking and reaction.
7. Mental Refreshment
It’s essential for high school athletes not to focus solely on one sport all the time. This can lead to them feeling burnt out and mentally exhausted. Trying different activities to give them a mental break, reduce stress, and keep them excited about their primary sport is good. Cross-training is a great way to do this, as it can help athletes maintain a healthy perspective and prevent them from becoming too one-dimensional in their interests and goals. Plus, it can help them learn new ways of moving their body.
8. Versatility and Adaptability
Learning different sports and activities can help athletes become more adaptable and versatile. It can improve their problem-solving abilities and help them quickly adjust to different situations. These skills are not only valuable for sports but also in everyday life. High school athletes who learn to adapt to other challenges and situations can become well-rounded individuals and versatile players.
How it Helped Personally
Learning different skills is a bonus and a necessary part of developing as a high school athlete. As a wrestler in high school, we included sports like basketball and frisbee football into the practice to help us improve. This approach not only helped us become stronger and fitter but also made us better at the technical aspects of wrestling.
Participating in basketball games improved our agility, reflexes, and coordination, which helped us in wrestling. The fast-paced movements, quick reactions, and explosive techniques we used in basketball were quickly applied to the wrestling mat. Footwork, lateral movement, and hand-eye coordination were also essential skills that contributed to our success as wrestlers.
Another activity we played was frisbee football. This brought an exciting and unpredictable twist to our routine to disengage from the severe intensity of the mats. This helped us become more adaptable and well-conditioned while improving our ability to think independently. The skills we learned during frisbee football, like quick decision-making and teamwork, helped us in other areas like wrestling.
Our approach to training went beyond just physical exercise. We invested strategically in our athletic development by incorporating activities beyond wrestling. This helped us improve our speed and explosiveness and fine-tune our technical skills and personal strategy. All these efforts made us more versatile and resilient athletes on the mat.
By participating in various sports and activities, athletes can reduce the risk of injuries, enhance physical fitness, and transfer skills across different disciplines. High school athletes should consider incorporating cross-training into their schedules to reap its numerous benefits, both within and beyond their primary sport.
Check out my book, INSTANT STRENGTH, for total strength, speed, and power programs.
To maximize stability, mobility, and flexibility, check out my book, THE BALANCED BODY.
To see great exercises, methods, and techniques videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel, BALANCED BODY.