The challenges that multi-sport athletes face

The following is a response to a reader’s suggestion.

As a high school softball coach, I disliked sharing my athletes with other sports because it disrupted my practices/schedule for the team.

If you have a daughter that’s good at softball she’s probably good at others sports as well, and the coaches of those other sports may see that and seek her out. I did it.

If I saw someone that was an aggressive basketball or soccer player, I would try and recruit them for softball. Further, athletes usually thrive on competition, and will seek avenues to get that thrill.

I was consistently negotiating with other coaches and players for time. Then there was the injury factor we all feared in the back of our mind—that star athlete playing another sport, getting injured, and it impacting our team and program.

However, I have seen pitchers with potential never fully develop because of too many outside activities.

It seems like pitching practices are the first thing that get cut. I admit my view is skewed towards pitchers and practice, but if you want to excel at something it must be practiced on a consistent basis.

As a parent, I loved it when my children played different sports. I had a great time watching them compete at different things.

It gave them a chance to work with different friends and coaches. Different sports also presented different challenges, and developed my children from different angles.

It was a pain when they played multiple sports at the same time (we had to work out the different schedules), but at the end of the day it all worked out.

Here are some things I learned as a coach, and parent, of multi-sport athletes: Your daughter must…

1. Be honest with all her coaches. She needs to tell them if she plays (or plans to play) several sports. Further, she needs to know that some coaches will want a 100 percent commitment, and will not budge.

She might have to make some decisions (sacrifices) at that point, but that’s better then creating a dishonest reputation for herself.

2. Tell her coaches in the beginning about schedule conflicts.

3. Understand she might be penalized for missing games or practices; this is part of the price multi-sport athletes have to pay.

5. Avoid making her problem (scheduling conflicts, missing practices, etc.) her coach’s problem. She/he has a team to prepare.

6. Be fully committed and (mentally) present at each practice. A player can become distracted competing in more than one sport, and neither team gets her best.

What would you add to the list?

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