February 27, 2008

Multi Sport Player Question

A question about being a multi-sport athlete from one of our readers:

Just ran across your site today - Lots of valuable information.

My daughter plays both volleyball and basketball in high school at the varsity level. She also plays club volleyball and this coming summer she will play club basketball to a limited extent.

The seasons tend to overlap, without much, if any down time. Do college coaches encourage multi-sport athletes? Do you have any advice to these athletes? Does she need to make a decision and pick a favorite sport? Larry

Great question and one that has not been asked before.

By and large, college coaches do not encourage multi-sport athletes - It scares Volleyball coaches when kids play basketball because the number of ACL injuries and the physical contact, just as I would think playing Volleyball scares basketball coaches because of the potential for leg injuries along the net. In the past, college coaches may have looked at basketball as a means to stay in shape when not playing Volleyball, but now that club Volleyball has grown tremendously as a means to develop skill and improve conditioning, the support of a second sport for Volleyball Prospective Student Athletes has disappeared.

My advice to any athlete who is a Junior or older in high school is to pick one sport and focus. Two reasons for this advice; one, she needs time to rest physically and mentally - going from high school Volleyball, immediately into high school basketball, immediately into club Volleyball, immediately into club basketball and then back into high school Volleyball is the recipe for burn-out (it may not catch up to her immediately, but it will eventually). Two, the 17's age is when she will make the biggest jump in her physical development and concurrent with this, she must focus on one sport to reach the highest possible level of college potential. You have to remember that it is a competition to get a scholarship at the school of your choosing. When a player is multi-sporting (new verb that I want credit for when everyone is using it!), they are getting better at each sport, but when a player just focuses upon one sport, they are becoming much, much better at that sport and would theoretically be rated higher when a coach starts to determine who will be offered a scholarship.

Without sounding too biased, I think basketball players can be more successful being multi-sport athletes before college than volleyball players. I say that because volleyball has much more defined skill sets that must be practiced in group settings to improve. If you think about it, if you have a nice jump shot, that one skill can take you a long ways in basketball. If you have a nice arm swing, that one skill will not take you as far in volleyball because you also need to be able to jump, pass, play defense, block, etc.

Have your daughter pick her favorite sport and commit to becoming as good as possible in that sport, along with focusing upon the recruiting process so she is choosing the school that best fits her academic and athletic desires.