This blog was designed to aid in the promotion of attitudes that support a more intrinsic purpose behind sports participation, especially in youth, high school and collegiate sports. And to spark interest in my forthcoming book "Becoming a True Champion: Achieving Athletic Excellence From the Inside Out," which has the same general purpose, along with giving athletes the tools they need to become successful.
In my last article, Specializing in Youth Sports, Good or Bad, I touched on the current increase in injuries to young competitors playing sports. Just the fact that the sheer number of young athletes participating has gone up over the last several decades, would automatically cause an upswing in the number of young sports enthusiasts having to seek medical attention. There is just an inherent physical risk in competitive sports that cannot be denied.
Getting back to our focus on specialization, another factor that athletes (and their parents) need to keep in mind is that different sports can and do bring different circumstances into the mix. There are some sports that tend to have a genuine overlap between them, more so than do others, and because of this overlap they do not require as much specialization. It is almost as if the sports truly complement each other. Take football and wrestling as one example. I am sure you can find many good football players who are also very good wrestlers, especially in the middle and upper weight classes. In fact, I personally know of two who were solid football players and became state champions in wrestling. There are other sports that also tend to have similar overlapping characteristics. If size, speed, agility, jumping ability, coordination (hand/eye), etc. are high priorities in a sport, then usually these attributes easily carry over to another sport that has the same high priority for these athletic skills.
I suppose the best answer to this question of specialization in sports (and I know I might get some grief for this) is that there really is no best or right answer, at least no right answer for everyone and every situation. There are just too many variables in order for one answer to truly be beneficial for all. In fact, doing so would not only be inappropriate but completely unfair to the athlete and/or situation they might be faced with. So, even though it might seem vague at first, let’s start with some general guidelines (and I do mean general; some will even come up with scenarios that would simply not fit these general guidelines either).