Young athletes should play as many sports as possible
Published 9:05 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Back in my teenage days, I would always wince when I heard my grandfather or dad start a story with “Back in my day…”
However, if you will oblige me for just a few moments, I am going to jump in my time machine to go in the past.
Back in my day, we played every sport we could. My friends and I would play football in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. We didn’t concentrate on one sport and play it all year long.
Nowadays, the thought process in many athletes, and parents, is if a child is good at a sport, you must play it all year long in order to stay ahead of the curve.
This first came about a few years ago with soccer, and has become even more prevalent with baseball and softball in the Deep South in recent years.
I hear stories of a young player’s “fall ball” efforts or tales of going to the batting cage or bullpen in November in order to get a jump on the competition.
Some well-respected doctors and athletic trainers are partially blaming the recent explosion of Tommy John surgeries on the year-round baseball system.
Young arms are not fully developed, and therefore are not physically ready to pitch or throw 12 months a year.
By playing football or basketball, the elbow and shoulder joints have a chance to rest and heal up on their own.
Also by playing more than one sport, a young athlete learns techniques that could help them in their chose sport.
Basketball uses a lot of quick footwork, baseball is huge with hand-eye coordination and football teaches physical toughness and playing through small hurts and pains.
I fully understand if a player doesn’t want to play another sport just for the shear lack of interest.
But parents shouldn’t treat that as an opening to ramp up the off-season training for one particular sport.
I was a decent football player, a sub-par basketball player and average baseball guy in my younger days. I never look back on those days and ask myself why I didn’t concentrate on one thing.
I was having too much fun being an athlete.
Ryan McCollough is a sports writer for The Messenger. He covers recreation, high school and Troy University athletics and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the Alabama Sports Writers Association.