Is Being A Multi-Sport Athlete Always A Good Thing?
(PC: Anna Scipione)
Is it better to be a multi-sport athlete or focus on one sport? This is one of the hottest topics in the last couple of years. Although, the quick answer is always the same, the more true answer is much different. “Yes, we love multi-sport athletes and, in fact, we prefer them,” says the college recruiter at the fall recruiting showcase during football season. “Of course we want all our athletes to play multiple sports,” says the high school/club coach while asking you to play all off-season. As a high school coach and club director I am just as guilty of talking out of both sides of my mouth. I want kids to play other sports but also have time to play club lacrosse every other weekend.
For young athletes the answer is easy. Play as many sports as you can to see what you like and what you are good at it. Focus on one “in-season” sport per season and don’t be afraid to change sports from year-to-year. If you are absolutely passionate about one particular sport then play some travel ball throughout the year, but DO NOT put all your eggs in one basket.
For high school athletes it gets a little trickier. It has gotten increasingly harder to play multiple sports due to the competitiveness and time commitment of any sport throughout the year. The truth is that is that there are very few kids that have the athletic ability to excel at multiple sports. Those athletes can probably pick up their stick in the spring and start right away. So what about the athletes that aren’t as physically gifted? Is sitting on the bench all season as a back-up really going to help you become more well-rounded of an athlete?
For these players another option could be playing in a recreational league or taking some classes. Athletes can still get the same benefits of competing in a competitive environment while developing new skills and having fun. Soccer and basketball are terrific “crossover” sports for lacrosse that have reactional leagues year round for all ability levels. Athletes will improve their quickness & agility, linear & lateral speed, and conditioning to name a few. Offensive players will improve their spacing, dodging, and off-ball movement. Defensive players will improve their angles, angles of pursuit, and footwork. For specialty positions, sports like boxing and wrestling can provide an intangible benefit. Boxing is a fantastic sport that would be a huge asset to goalies. Hand/eye coordination, hand speed, and footwork are just a few of the valuable skills that can be learned. Wrestling is another great sport that improves total body control, strength & conditioning, and physical & mental toughness. This would be especially beneficial for face off players looking to learn how to use their bodies better for leverage and control. There are MMA gyms all over that hold classes in these disciplines so go out and take a class!
Every kid is different and there is no set plan that works for everyone. Find what feels right for you and make sure you are able to balance academics, athletics, and a social life. Remember, whether you are a multi-sport athlete or not there is always time to work on your lacrosse game if you manage your time properly. Anyone can find 5-10 minutes a few times per week to play wall ball. I’m sure that you have been told to play wall ball a million times, but I cannot stress enough how much this will improve your game.