Part 1 of this series discusses the information high school athletes should consider before giving up playing multiple sports to focus on one sport. What outside factors are playing into this shift? Should athletes take injury into account when considering opportunities for their sport?
You need to consider two things when determining how injuries will affect you as an athlete. The first factor is the risk of your sport. Athletes that compete in sports with highly specialized motions like gymnastics, tennis, and track/cross-country or in more violent sports like football are more likely to get injured. Athletes that cross-train are typically less likely to injure themselves due the wide range of physical activities they take part in. Knowing the injury outlook and how to counteract that with training is integral to picking one sport or multiple sports. You just have to know your body and know how it will react.
Parents are Helping to Influence the Shift
Part of the blame for this shift can be placed on parents. Parents are influencing their kids to choose one sport over being a multiple-sport athlete because getting an athletic scholarship is quite challenging. The common misconception among parents and athletes is that playing one sport will truly help you get a scholarship. True, there are many college coaches that want to see athletes specialize in a sport, but there are still college coaches who prefer to recruit athletes that are athletic enough to excel at multiple sports. Former USC coach Pete Carroll discusses why he tries to recruit athletes that play three sports.
The Impact of Sport Specialization
Sport specialization has forced athletes to make the move to single sports. The competition for opportunities not only to earn scholarships at the college level but also to just to play continues to drive athletes this way. Monica McNutt wrote a great article for the Washington Post discussing the stories of two multiple-sport athletes. A major problem for multiple-sport athletes is the fact they can be behind single-sport athletes when they enter a new season. Coupled with the competitive landscape of getting a college scholarship, multiple-sport athletes can feel like they are behind others in the recruiting process—driving more and more students to choose one sport.
What are your thoughts on playing one sport versus multiple sports? Do you think it is better to focus all of your energy toward one or play as many as you can? Sound off in the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!