Is it better to be a single sport athlete or multi-sport athlete? Do college coaches prefer athletes that are single sport-focused or those that play multiple sports? How do different sports affect change and development?
Tough questions with no one, right answer. In making this individual, personal decision, here are aspects to consider:
*ENJOYMENT OF SPORT: Finding any activity, whether it be sports, scholastic pursuits, or other hobbies, requires exploration. Trying different activities helps us learn our own interests. Additionally, as Ken Martel, a colleague at USA Hockey and head of the ADM program, athletes can get bored if they are stifled and restricted to one sport (e.g. even if pizza is your favorite meal, what if you could only eat it for the rest of your life?).
*AVAILABILITY OF RESOURCES: In the EXACT office, a common discussion often starts something like “why is Brazil so good at soccer?” or “why is the US so much better in basketball?”. There are many factors, but a prominent one is that in Brazil, soccer (aka ‘futbol’) resources are most commonly available. How many basketball courts are there across the US? In your community, what resources are available to you?
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*PASSION FOR THE SPORT: At home, what sports does your family follow (on TV, attending live events...)? If it is easy to get excited as a fan, don't you think it will be easier to get excited as a participant?
*LIFE-STAGE: Many governing bodies of sport including USA Hockey and US Soccer are incorporating concepts of age appropriate training into their programs. I highly recommend visiting the ADM Kids site created by USA Hockey. Concepts of 'Long Term Athlete Development' emphasize training [AND fun] that is designed for the right age. Younger players are encouraged to explore the enjoyment and skills of various sports.
SPECIALIZATION: Skills (the ability to execute proper sport-specific technique) is accumulated through repetition. Playing lots of soccer does make a better soccer player. Playing catch does make an individual more capable of catching and performing better. How many times do you think that Manny Ramirez has swung a bat? 100,000 swings? How many times has Landon Donovan kicked a soccer ball? 1,000,000 times? Manny has learned a feel for the bat and Landon a nice touch through constant, repeated touches.