Over the past 15 years a large number of parents and athletes have bought into the idea that in order to earn a scholarship athletes have to play travel ball and specialize in one sport. Sports specialization, defined as limiting sports participation to one sport where students train and compete solely in that sport year round, has fortunately worked out well for a small number of people like tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams and Tiger Woods. Unfortunately, this erroneous thought process has led to an ever-increasing number of athletes who have become little league and middle school studs who tapped out in high school either by nagging overuse injuries or by simply being burned out from playing too much.
Many of the greatest athletes took the opposite approach and played a variety of sports on their way to greatness. This list is long, but let’s name Lebron James and Bo Jackson as examples. They are both outstanding athletes to say the least. So what’s the point of playing multiple sports? The fundamental reason to play multiple sports is that you build a better athlete overall. The defensive slide used in basketball is the same movement a shortstop would use to intercept a ground ball in baseball, which is the same movement that an offensive lineman would use during pass protection in football.
There are also a number of additional health and wellness benefits associated with varied sports or physical activities including:
- Reduced risk of overuse injuries and stress from burnout
- Improved performance
- Leadership development by not always playing with the same group of girls or guys
- Athletes won’t shine at every sport they try, which teaches humility and keeps egos in check
- Kids have the opportunity to learn from different coaching styles and personalities
- IT’S FUN
If you are still hung up about the scholarship thing, Lax Magazine recently interviewed a number of top level college lacrosse coaches about their thoughts on recruiting multi-sport athletes. Click here to read that article.
All and all, I feel that in today’s social media-filled world where the best coaches are only 140 characters (Find us on Twitter @SAPTstrength) or a YouTube click away, if you can play someone will find you.