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Multi-sports: Playing Baseball and Football. Should Athletes Specialize in one Sport?

by Concerned Parents

Should a 14 year old baseball player, who loves baseball, play football as well? Currently, a top player, is being asked to go out for football. His concern is getting hurt and not being able to play baseball. He's a fast runner with a great arm.




Response by Skip



First, there is a risk for injury in anything we do. We could fall off a bicycle, or a skateboard any day or time. I remember smashing my finger severely on the fence while playing whiffle ball in the backyard as a kid.

So, I would not let the risk of injury stop one from playing football. Yes, football is a contact sport and the risk of a knee or ankle getting clobbered is there.

Having said that, I always counsel young athletes to play as many sports as possible. It is not really important to specialize on one sport. It takes athletic ability to play a variety of sports well.

Football can help players develop stronger bodies, more competitive demeanor and confidence. Traits that can certainly be a benefit for playing baseball better.

Second, there is not really a lot of baseball going on in the Fall so this is a good time to try another sport and not miss that much baseball time. You could probably find a travel team to play baseball on the weekends during the Fall, too.

Third, most college coaches like multi-sport athletes. This tells them that the player might be a more well rounded athletic competitor.

Fourth, do not forget about the classroom. The large majority of scholarship money comes from the academic arena. Baseball scholarships are rare and almost nobody gets a full-ride for a college baseball scholarship anymore.

Young athletes would benefit greatly by making sure they take the most rigorous class load and score the highest GPA and SAT scores as possible. This will open the maximum amount of options for higher education possibilities.

And last, keep the second sport in perspective. I have watched many athletes get caught up in the hoop-la and glamour of Friday night lights. They put all their time, effort and money into summer football camps, passing leagues and conditioning for football and forget baseball over the summer. This can be fatal for a baseball player's career.

One has to be a phenomenal athlete or a very large lineman to go on to play college football. Baseball is much kinder to more average sized players especially if they can run, throw and hit.

So, don't put all your eggs in the football basket. Play the sport but keep the focus of your time and energy on baseball. Go to a good summer baseball camp or get polished up with a professional baseball instructor rather than going to football camp. If you have a conflict with scheduling both football and baseball on the same night in the summer take the baseball game over football. The football coach will not like it but you have to look out for what is in your best interest.

Ask yourself...what sport gives me the best opportunity to play past high school? Answer: most of the time it is baseball.

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Plus I'll send you my '38 Point Hitting Cheat Sheet'. I send out my newsletter about once per month. I might send you some additional items at times to keep you informed on new stuff that can help 'Build Your Culture of Player Development'

Skip- Came across your books & videos 2 years ago at the end of the season.

I implemented your techniques the next season and can't thank you enough. The kids love practice, we accomplish a lot, and most importantly they all develop throughout the season. I don't worry much if we win or lose just as long as we try and they get better.

My pitchers only throw fastballs and a change up and we do just fine. If the other team hits the ball, great it gives the defense an opportunity to make a play.

I never coach from the box, I just encourage them to hit. And they all know the have the green light on 3-0. The best thing I can do for them is make them better hitters and the only way is to hit! By the way my kids are Junior Little league ages 13-14. Zach, Stockton, CA...


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