College recruiting is a very competitive process. Many high school athletes are being pressured to pick a single sport to increase their chances of receiving an athletic scholarship. As a former multi-sport athlete, this concerns me. I understand the reasoning behind dedicating all of your time and effort to becoming the best at a single sport, but I truly do not believe it is necessary for all sports.
There are 3 dangers in picking a single sport to dedicate all your time to as a young athlete:
1. Too Early to Tell
When I was in 8th grade I played almost every sport, but it really came down to basketball and baseball for me. In middle school, I was able to play all the sport seasons I wanted and I made it work. The summer of my 8th grade, I had a lot of pressure to quit baseball and play basketball year around so I could attend all of the AAU basketball tournaments. Playing a legitimate summer baseball schedule would be impossible. Being 14 years old, I didn’t know what sport I would have the best chance to play in college at and my father refused to make this decision for me because he understood my love for both sports. I played a lot of basketball and baseball that summer but I ended up leaving a very good AAU program because I was not able to commit to playing all the dates. It was way too early to tell for me what sport I would excel in being a 5’4 120 lb athlete. I excelled athletically, but physically it was just way too early to tell. I ended up becoming a Division 1 pitcher and throwing a baseball at 90 MPH.
2. Enhance Your Athletic Ability
Playing multiple sports helps you become a well-rounded athlete and will enhance you athletic ability by competing in other sports. Playing basketball at a high level enhanced my ability as a pitcher. My lateral quickness and first step was huge in fielding my position after throwing a pitch. It also helped my overall stamina as a pitcher. Being in basketball shape is truly unique with the style of running, sprinting, stopping, and starting. Pitching a baseball is an all body workout and it takes a toll on your body. Anyone that doesn’t believe this has never thrown something as hard as they could 100-120 times. Being in basketball shape allowed me to stay strong and pitch deep in the ball games, helped my stamina, and prevented me from developing bad habits that could hurt my arm.
Playing a sport year around can lead to becoming burned out. This became really apparent for me with all my friends who played basketball year around. Most of them were great football, soccer, and even tennis players early in high school but chose to play basketball year round. They traveled all over the country and played in tournaments just about every single weekend. Basketball was their favorite sport but it consumed their life and defined them. Most of them went on to play college basketball at a high level but mainly because that’s what they felt like they had to do – not because that’s what they wanted to do. The burnout caused them to lose their love for the game, and many were not willing to continue to put the work in while on their college basketball team.
The benefits of being a single sport athlete do make a lot of sense in a lot of sports. But from my experience being a well-rounded athlete helped me in my pursuit to becoming a college athlete. A lot of student-athletes are very successful dedicating all their time and effort towards one sport and have no problems with their decision. I just hope everyone considers what they may miss out on by making this decision if they are not absolutely sure.