We receive this question as much as any other at The Driven Academy: "When should my son/daughter focus on just baseball/softball?" Of course, this pre-supposes that we support single-sport ballplayers. This is an even more troubling situation considering many of the kids in question are just that: kids, 10-12 years old.
First, let's state something important: we understand the pressures...
1.) Other kids are specializing in one sport: often these kids show early success, which, by the way, is the worst indicator of future success. But it adds to the pressure - see "The Courage to be Patient"
2.) Coaches are pressuring you for more time: we've all done it, we've all felt it.
3.) You simply want what's best for your child: they love the sport, so hey, so let's just have them do it all the time
4.) Time: Running from volleyball to track to softball/baseball is not easy...and that's just for one kid!
It's tough. But the answer is simple: despite the fact that we are a softball & baseball facility, we will always answer: PLAY AS MANY SPORTS FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. Is this good business on our part? Heck yeah, because now we get "fresh" athletes to work with (as well as players that are desired at the next level!). But who cares about the business - this is about the kids.
Sometimes people take our word, most of the time they do not. But here's the secret: if you have visions of your child playing at the highest level, know that the coaches who can make that happen are looking for athletes they can work with, not just one-dimensional ballplayers. Still don't believe us? Check out the below article and quotes from Stack. com...
Dimension and attention rhyme for a reason. One way to receive the latter is to add to the former by displaying your athletic gifts on more than one playing field. Surprised? Know this: double timing evolves your game by making it multi-dimensional, and that’s a huge asset to have for the recruiting process. Need some convincing? Gather ’round as a few big-time head coaches lay it on the table.
Dom Starsia, University of Virginia men's lacrosse My trick question to young campers is always, “How do you learn the concepts of team offense in lacrosse or team defense in lacrosse in the off-season, when you’re not playing with your team?” The answer is by playing basketball, by playing hockey and by playing soccer and those other team games, because many of those principles are exactly the same. Probably 95 percent of the [time], our [players] are multi-sport athletes. It’s always a bit strange to me if somebody is not playing other sports in high school.
I’m always telling [young players] to play other sports, because there’s nothing in our sport that you’re doing in the off-season that’s of greater value than going to football practice every day or going to soccer practice every day. For young guys—especially those seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th graders—it’s a little too early to decidethat you’re not going to be a football player, or you’re going be a full-time lacrosse player. I don’t think they need to be doing that yet.
Pete Carroll, University of Southern California football The first questions I’ll ask about a kid are, “What other sports does he play? What does he do? What are his positions? Is he a big hitter in baseball? Is he a pitcher? Does he play hoops?” All of those things are important to me. I hate that kids don’t play three sports in high school. I think that they should play year-round and get every bit of it that they can through that experience. I really, really don’t favor kids having to specialize in one sport. Even here, I want to be the biggest proponent for two-sport athletes on the college level. I want guys that are so special athletically, and so competitive, that they can compete in more than one sport.
Bob Braman, Florida State University track and field I think it’s important for an athlete to have more than one skill. If somebody is a great pole vaulter, that’s great. But somebody that’s a great triple jumper and long jumper is much more versatile for us. A sprinter is more than likely going to be able to do two events, whether it’s a short sprinter or a long sprinter. A distance runner is going to do indoor track, outdoor track and cross country. Versatility becomes important when, on the men’s side, [I’m] looking at 12 scholarships and [I’m] trying to divide them up between those areas. If somebody’s a one event athlete, then he needs to be really uniquely talented.
Pass the Passion
Dedicate yourself to the game, not a game—because playing multiple sports gives you more than one venue to show off your athleticism for college coaches. The best in the game knew early on about the advantages of hitting up more than one field.
“Today, a lot of kids individualize in a specific sport. I think one of the things that helped me most was playing everything. I played basketball, I played football, I ran track. I even played soccer one year, [and] I played baseball. I think it allowed me to recruit different muscles [and] work on different things that I normally wouldn’t. And, it gave me a greater appreciation for the sport that I’ve come to love.” -Arizona Cardinals WR, Larry Fitzgerald
“In high school I did a lot of cross training. I ran track a lot; I played soccer [and] baseball; I played football. All those sports were combined into my training regimen, and I just transferred that over to basketball.” -Phoenix Suns F/C, Amar’e Stoudemire
The one thing I did that I think a lot of athletes don’t do now is [play] a little bit of everything. I played basketball every day after practice. On the weekend, [I] played football on the beach in the sand. I was surfing, body surfing, snorkeling, hiking. Hawaii’s a giant playground, so I grew up doing all kinds of things.” -Olympic Gold Medal decathlete, Bryan Clay