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Is it the end of the multi-sport athlete? (Read 227 times)

    It shouldn't be the end.  A lot of excellent players in professional sports played several different sports in their youth.  The key is to keep them busy in different sports throughout the year.  I kind of like the way sports are real organized for younger kids right now.  There's tons of opportunities for kids to play in any sport at almost any time of year.  Besides all that, if you want your kid to do well, just play with them in the backyard.  That's how I developed my skills as a baseball player, just hitting batting practice from my old man.

     

    Here's a list of high profile athletes that did more than one sport growing up.

     

     

    Lebron James - An excellent HS football player but stopped his sophomore year.

    Steve Nash - Played soccer which helped him develop his great passing game for basketball

    Tony Gonzalez - An excellent basketball player

    Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders - Pro Baseball and Basketball players.

    Joe Mauer - A great HS football player

    Aaron Rodgers - A pitcher on his HS baseball team

    Ray Lewis - Wrestled in HS

     

    The list goes on and on and on.

     

    I ran track, XC, and played baseball at my HS.  I didn't run in the off-season but I still made it to state in track and XC because I was stayed in shape playing other things.  I played pick up basketball and played on the baseball team in the summer, and played intramural basketball in the winter.  I also was the lead-off hitter for the varsity baseball team my senior year and we lost in the sectional final (I almost made it to state in all three of the sports I played).

     

    My wife has almost the exact same story.  She ran XC and Track in HS, and also played basketball for her HS.  She made it to state in track all four years in the 800 and credits basketball for keeping her speed sharp even though she wasn't doing distance runs at all in the winter.   

     

    The best athletes usually excel in whatever sport they choose, and if they choose to play multiple sports, it usually helps them develop a better understanding for all the sports they play.

      It shouldn't be the end.  A lot of excellent players in professional sports played several different sports in their youth.  The key is to keep them busy in different sports throughout the year.  I kind of like the way sports are real organized for younger kids right now.  There's tons of opportunities for kids to play in any sport at almost any time of year.  Besides all that, if you want your kid to do well, just play with them in the backyard.  That's how I developed my skills as a baseball player, just hitting batting practice from my old man.

       

      Here's a list of high profile athletes that did more than one sport growing up.

       

       

      Lebron James - An excellent HS football player but stopped his sophomore year.

      Steve Nash - Played soccer which helped him develop his great passing game for basketball

      Tony Gonzalez - An excellent basketball player

      Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders - Pro Baseball and Basketball players.

      Joe Mauer - A great HS football player

      Aaron Rodgers - A pitcher on his HS baseball team

      Ray Lewis - Wrestled in HS

       

      The list goes on and on and on.

       

      I ran track, XC, and played baseball at my HS.  I didn't run in the off-season but I still made it to state in track and XC because I was stayed in shape playing other things.  I played pick up basketball and played on the baseball team in the summer, and played intramural basketball in the winter.  I also was the lead-off hitter for the varsity baseball team my senior year and we lost in the sectional final (I almost made it to state in all three of the sports I played).

       

      My wife has almost the exact same story.  She ran XC and Track in HS, and also played basketball for her HS.  She made it to state in track all four years in the 800 and credits basketball for keeping her speed sharp even though she wasn't doing distance runs at all in the winter.   

       

      The best athletes usually excel in whatever sport they choose, and if they choose to play multiple sports, it usually helps them develop a better understanding for all the sports they play.

      Tief, most of the athletes you mentioned are a lot closer to my age and probably yours then current youths, so, yes, it was different for them. Plus, they are obviously superior athletes who can or could do pretty much what they wanted. I think it's different for kids that just want to play a hs sport or maybe get a look from a college coach. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't xc basically the same as track, esp. At the longer distances. I don't see a huge distinction there.

         

        The best athletes usually excel in whatever sport they choose, and if they choose to play multiple sports, it usually helps them develop a better understanding for all the sports they play.

         

        +1

         

        I just told one of my kids something similar. I see kids who are already zeroing in on one sport and who have never played more than one sport. I wonder how much of this is the kid and how much of this is the parent. There are so many great sports out there and I'd like my kids to try out a few of them, if they are interested. Who knows how a kid will grow or not grow. That kid flying around the basketball court might stop growing. Sports are great and they have their place but I don't know where parents think this will lead.

         

        I am pushing running, but no one is biting.

          Tief, most of the athletes you mentioned are a lot closer to my age and probably yours then current youths, so, yes, it was different for them. Plus, they are obviously superior athletes who can or could do pretty much what they wanted. I think it's different for kids that just want to play a hs sport or maybe get a look from a college coach. Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't xc basically the same as track, esp. At the longer distances. I don't see a huge distinction there.

           

          I understand the argument here, but we, the parents created the monster.  Don't feed the beast and stick with the local teams, and try and offer a lot of variety to your children.  I really believe that if you just work with your kid on your own (if you know the sport well) they'll be as good or better than the kid who spends 4 hours in the car every weekend and only one hour on the playing field, no matter what sport it is.

           

          How about Mike Trout - He's young and also was a B-Ball and Football player.  I understand you are talking about being able to play a HS sport, but I think you get better at any sport you play no matter what sport you are currently playing.

           

          As for XC and Track being similar, yes they are at the longer distances, but I sure as hell liked Track better when I only had to run a half or a mile instead of a 5k in HS or an 8K/10K in college.

           

          I was just bringing up running examples with my wife and myself because I think some people think that HS runners need to be running year round in HS to be successful, and that's not true if they are doing another sport in the off season.  Matter of fact, many colleges appreciate an athlete that has been in other sports because they think that athlete might have a higher upside when they focus on that sport exclusively in college.

          GC100k


            Plus, they are obviously superior athletes who can or could do pretty much what they wanted. 

             

            This.  Even today many top college football players were also all-state in basketball or baseball. .

             

            There's no debate that playing multiple sports makes you a better athlete.  College coaches say they look for athletes who have done more than one sport, which means they're more well-rounded and also they have room to get better.

             

            It's the youth sports system that pushes specialization and harps on "commitment", which translates to your parents paying for the right traveling teams and driving you to the "optional" workouts.  If you're not a freak of nature and you want a shot in the over-organized team sports, you better get in the system and pays your money.

             

            Or move to a small town.  I hear my dad talk of growing up in a small Wisconsin town where everyone was on every team and that sounds really nice to me.

            GC100k


               Who knows how a kid will grow or not grow. That kid flying around the basketball court might stop growing. Sports are great and they have their place but I don't know where parents think this will lead.

               

              Amen:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MScAH3TPio

                 

                 

                 

                Or move to a small town.  I hear my dad talk of growing up in a small Wisconsin town where everyone was on every team and that sounds really nice to me.

                 

                +1


                A Saucy Wench

                   


                   

                  Or move to a small town.  I hear my dad talk of growing up in a small Wisconsin town where everyone was on every team and that sounds really nice to me.

                   

                  I AM in a small town.  Which is part of the problem.  By the time they fill the cut teams, there aren't enough kids left to play the non-cut teams so the sport is dropped altogether.  dd is not athletic.  She just wants to play.  But the options arent there if she isnt good enough to be on the competitive teams.

                  I have become Death, the destroyer of electronic gadgets

                   

                  "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - dd, age 7

                     

                    I AM in a small town.  Which is part of the problem.  By the time they fill the cut teams, there aren't enough kids left to play the non-cut teams so the sport is dropped altogether.  dd is not athletic.  She just wants to play.  But the options arent there if she isnt good enough to be on the competitive teams.

                     

                    That is exactly the problem. I live in a town of about 12000 people and I have seen rec teams dying because there are not enough kids and/or parent volunteers to run the programs. Sports offer so much for kids. I think everyone should have the opportunity to play.

                       

                      Amen:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MScAH3TPio

                       

                      Excellent video and it made me think. Thanks for posting it.


                      Closed for repairs

                        My 11 YO son plays travel soccer.  He was approached by another more competitive travel team this season to play all winter, with 2 practices per week and a game each weekend from November to the end of May.  We live in a small town, and all of this takes place in another small town 30 minutes away.  So it would involve us going 3x per week for 1 1/2 hours plus an hour of driving each time for 6 months each and every week.

                         

                        Thankfully, he had little interest, even though he's pretty good (not great), and he's looking forward to playing basketball, where he's OK (not even pretty good).  But he likes it and gets to be with a different set of friends, and it's much easier on our family.

                         

                        The family thing is my point.  I understand getting more serious at older ages.  But at younger ages, all this travel and everything that goes with it results in kids not having adequate downtime, not enough time for homework, not enough sleep, and an often disjointed family unit because everyone is going off in all directions ALL THE TIME (esp. with multiple kids).  It's OK for a season, but not for 8 years straight.

                         


                        Needs more cowbell!

                          Or move to a small town.  I hear my dad talk of growing up in a small Wisconsin town where everyone was on every team and that sounds really nice to me.

                           

                          I grew up in a small town in WI -- our entire 4-grade HS was maybe 200 kids.  I think they might have as many as 250, nowadays.

                           

                          Most seasons we only had 1-2 sports (Fall: vball, football--with another school, XC, Winter: basketball, Spring: track, baseball, softball).  I think that's pretty much still the case, but we were generally pretty strong in our division (C or D, depending upon sport).  We always had one of the top XC teams the entire time I was in school.  Typically our team would podium at state and several individual runners would also make the podium.  AFAIK one of my HS classmates still has the 2 mile record in WI T&F, too.  They added soccer a few years back and from what I hear that program is really strong.

                           

                          With the exception of cheerleading, if a person wanted to play a sport they could -- every season.  They might not make varsity, but there were always JV spots.  It's unfortunate that this is not the scenario everywhere.  I was horrible at volleyball, but it was nice that I had the opportunity to play 2nd string JV that one season.

                          I shoot pretty things! ~

                          '14 Goals:

                          • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                          • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                          GC100k


                            One of the best things we ever did regarding youth sports was quit. My son was in this super-serious basketball travel team for several years.  The people who ran it were friends of mine for years before we started it and I have no complaints about the people, but in the fall of 7th grade I decided I could not spend another beautiful fall weekend sitting in a gym all day.

                             

                            So we quit and started spending the weekends in the woods looking for waterfalls.  That led to a deal with BackPacker magazine to do GPS tracking of trails in the region.  My son is in college now and hiking and camping has become his #1 hobby and basically the only thing he cares about.  So quitting basketball helped him find his passion.

                             

                            My son is a freak of nature athlete and did end up playing sports in high school and now in college.  Probably most kids couldn't drop out of the system and get back in later.  But then again, some of his super dedicated youth teammates didn't make the high school team.  Several did: three of them are playing college basketball (I think) and another is playing college football.

                              Personally I find the early specialization thing insidious for a bunch of reasons, a lot of them already listed:

                              -          Cost (in time and money and family opportunity cost)

                              -          Overuse and injury potential

                              -          Burnout

                              -          Limiting exposure – how do you pick one without trying them all

                              -          Friendship bubbling – hang out with the same kids all year long forever – never meet or get exposed to any one new

                              -          Economic stratification – travel teams without aid for those who can’t afford means you’ll basically be hanging out with the wealthier kids only, that’s no good or fun for anyone

                              -          Drama

                              -          And really, all that…for what? The kids in my town are pretty good 9, 10, 11, 12 year old ball players. I think 2 kids on the high school team went on to play college baseball (d3) last year. A lot of them end up dropping by the time the get to high school.

                               

                              If you do end up specializing early – make sure whoever is coaching knows what the hell they are doing. I have great admiration for folks who give up their own time to teach – but I also know that 90% of them have no clue how to be a good teacher, or sometimes even what to teach.

                               

                              I don’t know. Growing up I played soccer, baseball, football, hockey, tennis, and I swam and sailed. In high school, that got narrowed to football, hockey, baseball. In college, baseball. My kid wants to play soccer in the spring. He’ll be 8. It’s already “too late” for him to join the club travel team (which requires a 1 year COMMITTMENT - read "miss 2 practices and your off the team"), so he’ll be in the town rec league that is so small it combines 7-12 year olds. I’m a little bummed he won’t have the experiences I had. Then again, he’s not me. He’s not really an athlete, and he’s a lot smarter than I was.

                              Come all you no-hopers, you jokers and rogues
                              We're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes

                                I think some of this is driven by the kids too.  When I was in high school I played soccer all year round (indoor in the winter).  I did it because I loved it and wanted to be the best.  At that time (1990) my high school soccer coach had nothing to do with anything but fall soccer.  I was on my own to find leagues the rest of the year and by no means pressured to do so year round.

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