Multi-Sport Athletes vs. Sports Specialization
Athletics at the high school level is a huge part of the high school experience for all student-athletes. Through sports, athletes learn positive values such as goal setting, how to effectively manage time, how to effectively get along with others, sportsmanship, how to win and lose with grace and class, as well as many other positive life lessons. At Northmont, we strive to provide every student-athlete with a high quality environment in which they can compete and grow as an individual and member of a team. In addition to competing at a high level, we encourage all of our athletes to put academics as a high priority, and to also learn life lessons through their sport.
One thing that we as an athletic department do not encourage is that of sports specialization, wherein an athlete quits playing multiple sports in order to focus on one particular sport. Unfortunately, sports specialization is a problem that is increasing across America as many student-athletes feel the pressure to focus on one sport, often times in hopes of earning a college scholarship. What many athletes do not realize however, is that almost every college coach across America is encouraging kids to play multiple sports in high school! From high profile coaches like Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Urban Meyer (Ohio State) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson), to elite professional athletes like Drew Brees (NFL) and Giancarlo Stanton (MLB), coaches and athletes alike are encouraging students to participate in multiple sports.
Another thing that a lot of parents and high school athletes do not realize, is that the advantages of playing multiple sports far outweigh the benefits of sports specialization. Here are just a few of the benefits of playing multiple sports.
- Athletes who participate in athletics in high school on average have higher GPA, higher test scores and better attendance than their peers who do not participate in athletics.
- Athletes who participate in multiple sports tend to have less injuries than athletes who specialize in one sport.
- Athletes who participate in multiple sports have less emotional burn-out than those who specialize in one sport.
- Athletes who play multiple sports develop a wider range of skills than their peers who specialize in one sport.
With such high profile coaches and athletes encouraging kids to play multiple sports, it begs the question why anyone would tell a kid that they need to specialize in order to get a college scholarship. As an Athletic Director, I hear this far too often from athletes, that they have a personal coach or AAU/travel coach who is telling the athlete that they need to focus on one sport. My message to anyone who has someone telling them to specialize, would be to cut ties with that coach.
High school athletics is an integral part of the high school experience, and is something that has a limited timeframe. Once it is gone, it cannot be reclaimed. With all of this in mind, we want to encourage all student-athletes to participate in multiple sports.
Make sure you have all of the necessary information when helping your child make the decision as to which sports they play. Don’t be like the parents in this video.