CHAPTER 13 THE MULTI-SPORT ATHLETE
CHRIS KRAUSE High School Edition
C H A P T E R 13
THE MULTI-SPORT ATHLETE Imagine that you were looking to purchase a car stereo for around $100, and these were your options:
• am/fm with CD player • am/fm with CD player and detachable face • am/fm with CD player, detachable face, and mini-stereo input for iPod or other MP3 player If every stereo cost the same amount ($100), of course you would want to purchase the one with the most features! College coaches also want to get the most bang for their buck. An athlete who brings skills, techniques, and that extra edge of playing two or more sports is always going to win out over a single-sport athlete costing the same amount of scholarship dollars but with less diverse skills. Within limits, students should try to participate in as many sports as possible while in high school. College coaches love to find student-athletes who love to compete!
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THE HOW TO GUIDE DURING HIGH SCHOOL
“Any person who is good at multiple things has a marketing edge,” said Ty Garland, former multi-sport star in the Big Ten at Michigan State. “The more a student can show a coach, the better.” Yet parents and students should keep some considerations in mind. First and foremost, a high school student’s academics must be considered first. Involvement in several sports should not cause overload, especially when two sports overlap. “A coach will not even consider a student’s athletic ability if his grades are not up to par,” said Augie Maurelli of Georgetown University. “Be careful to balance academics with love of sport. If a student loves football but is three times better at wrestling and can earn a full scholarship to a great academic school, the student might prefer to focus on wrestling instead of football, especially if football is getting in the way of his academic performance,” agreed Garland. For a high school athlete that plays two sports, one sport is generally the primary sport, while the other is secondary. An athlete is rarely gifted with the skills to excel in two sports equally, although it is possible. Garland suggested that an athlete should begin considering not only which sport is more marketable, but also which sport the athlete excels at, by the junior or senior year. Often, one sport will have far greater opportunities than the other due to popularity or an abundance of programs. Football, baseball, and basketball players today are always going to have the most options, because the number of programs is greater. However, that also means that competition in those sports is very fierce. If a student is gifted in a sport that has fewer programs around the nation, it could be that the athlete’s chances of getting noticed and of finding a good match are much higher, simply because both the student and the coaches have fewer options and less legwork. The student is less likely to get “lost in the shuffle” of a more niche sport.
An athlete should consider whether participation in a second sport will increase the chance of injury so much that participation in the primary sport is endangered. For example, a gymnast who specializes in vault might also be a hurdler, which can cause severe ankle injuries and set a gymnastic career back months and months. A missed competition could mean missing out on an offer to join a college team.
Coachâ€™s Tip A student forced to choose between two sports should choose the sport the athlete loves most, regardless of whether this is the stronger sport. During college, playing a sport can be a full-time job, so being passionate about the sport is critical to success and longevity.
Some sport combinations work synergisticallyâ€”track and football, for example. For running positions on a football team, the sprints of the short distance runner and the conditioning of the long-distance runner are icing on the cake. While other players might be doing half-hearted jogs to keep in shape during the off-season, the student-athlete is following a rigorous, systematic training program to keep his body in peak physical condition while improving his speed. Competition (in heats or races) also serves to sharpen his competitive edge. Though competing in multiple sports is encouraged at the high school level, most Division I revenue sports frown on a student-athlete competing in more than one sport because they do not believe there is enough time to excel in both. It takes a rare student-athlete to compete at the high Division I level in one sport, let alone two. The best option for the multi-sport athlete who wants to continue playing both sports in college is usually at Division II, Division III, or NAIA levels.
THE HOW TO GUIDE DURING HIGH SCHOOL
Key Points 1.
The athlete who participated in multiple sports in high school often brings more skills and techniques and better conditioning than a singlesport athlete.
An athlete whose GPA is hurt by participating in two sports might also have a lesser chance of being recruited. The athlete must balance sports with academics, being sure that academics are given a higher priority than being a multi-sport athlete.
The second sport should not significantly increase an athleteâ€™s likelihood of injury.
When deciding which sport is the primary sport, an athlete should consider not only level of ability and passion, but also which is more marketable.
Though competing in multiple sports is encouraged at the high school level, most Division I revenue sports frown on a student-athlete competing in more than one sport because they do not believe there is enough time to excel in both. It takes a rare student-athlete to compete at the high Division I level in one sport, let alone two. The best option for the multi-sport athlete who wants to continue playing both sports in college is usually at Division II, III, or NAIA levels.