I have played soccer and other sports since I was about 5 years old. I enjoy sports; they are a liberating way to get in shape while also blowing off some steam.
When I was younger, I thought I would be able to continue doing all the sports I love into my teen years. Then I realized that once you get into high school, you have to choose a sport. And while this isn’t a necessity, most students choose one sport, as coaches pretty much require training in the offseason. (It will affect your playing time if you don’t do it.) If you are committing to three to five days of training a week, this leaves little room for other activities.
And that one sport then turns into a yearlong commitment.
If a student tries to deviate and join another sport, they have to skip some practices for one team while going to practices for the other team. This can also mean missing out on other experiences that should be part of high school.
When I decided to play soccer year-round, we were practicing five days a week, and we had games on the weekends. And after about three months of this, I experienced a knee overuse injury. Four other players had knee injuries as well, which says a lot about the strain that was being placed on the players—we had worked so hard for so long, and then we went directly into club soccer in the offseason. There was never a break!
This injury really pushed me back, and I was out of commission for eight weeks. Because of this, I missed out on soccer training and the beginning of track. I knew if I did some cross-training with soccer and track together, I would be a stronger, more valuable athlete, but I had to miss out on some training because of my injury.
Students can also miss out on other activities when playing a single sport. We have schoolwork, music, extracurricular activities, and sports, and when you put all of those things together, it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed. Instead of widening my social circle and joining some clubs, I am on the field.
But even with these downsides, I still keep playing soccer year-round. I love playing a team sport and getting to know my teammates. To get a break and avoid injuries, I skip some practices. Even though it is a lot to balance soccer with all of the activities that I do, it is an enjoyable experience that really boosts my mood.