Jack Welch

Well-Rounded Athlete!

On the Sidelines
Jack Welch
It seems like more and more parents are pushing their children to spend “all” of their sports time training for one sport. Youngsters need to strive to become well-rounded athletes, focusing on multiple sports and not limit themselves. Many parents believe their children benefit more by concentrating on just one sport. They will spend thousands of dollars for year around training. What do the experts say? Is playing only one sport considered to build an athlete or is this specific aspiration detrimental to their development?
What is an athlete? The dictionary defines an athlete as a person who plays multiple sports and is capable of playing them at a certain level. According to this description, a young person growing up with the intent to become the next best quarterback is not an athlete, because he is limiting himself to one sport.
At a certain age, it is acceptable for an athlete to begin concentrating on a limited number of sports. If they participate in one sport from an early age though, they will not gain the athletic knowledge necessary for being a well-rounded athlete. If a young girl plays soccer, then basketball or volleyball, and softball or track, odds are she will learn valuable movements and intricate details of how to play “the game”.
The same holds true for a young man playing football. In my opinion, a young man learns to be a better offensive player if he has played defense and vice versa. The coordination of blocking a defender, maintaining body control and even running a pass pattern is learned by playing those different positions.
There are examples of dual-sport athletes and even triple-sport athletes in college. One of the greatest athletes of all-time is Bo Jackson. Bo played baseball and football at Auburn University. He was a Heisman trophy winner and an All-Star in both baseball, as well as football. Jackson went on play professional baseball for the Kansas City Royals, which was his main love. He played running back in the National Football League for the Los Angeles Raiders, but considered this profession a hobby.
Some local examples include Charles “Peanut” Tillman (football, basketball, track), Robert Griffin III (football, basketball, track), and hundreds others in the Dawg annuals! Robert Griffin started as a freshman on the varsity basketball team and was an excellent track athlete (world-class). Tillman’s love was basketball and his basketball skills of defending on the court helped him become an All-Pro defensive back in the NFL.
On the contrary, Todd Marinovich was an aspiring quarterback. His parents had a plan for him beginning at an early age to be an outstanding NFL quarterback. He was called a, “Robo QB.” His father only allowed football in his early life. He trained, ate, and slept learning football. His father even taught him defensive coverages. Marinovich received a scholarship to the University of Southern California. After a stellar college career, the Los Angeles Raiders drafted him. He did not make it in the professional league though because he was burnt out. All Marinovich wanted was a sense of peace. He quit!
What do major college coaches say about athletes playing multiple sports? Michigan coach, John Paul said, “Being a well-rounded athlete can propel you into playing your sport at the highest level.” Furthermore, Coach Paul said there was huge cross-training benefit for athletes to play more than one sport. “We prefer athletes who have a burning desire to compete as much as possible.”
Recruiting multi-sport athletes is something that college coaches talk about all the time, and a number of additional tweets over the past few months have really helped to illustrate just how valued they are by some of the top coaches and programs in the country. Coaches such as Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Brian Kelly are just a small handful of the coaches that target two, and three sport athletes.
Indiana University head football coach said playing multiple sports provides more opportunity for athletes to build individual confidence. He also said multi-sport athletes tend to be more competitive. Coach Saban (Alabama) recruits multiple sport athletes because of the competitive situations they learn to deal with.
I believe parents try to live through their children and desire their child to be a great player in a particular sport. My advice is “chill” and allow your child to have fun by playing “all” sports. There will be a time to narrow down but allow the child to have many great athletic experiences. Their abilities and skills will obviously move to a certain sport(s) as they age.
Thought for the week, “The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Albert Einstein

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