Carson Klute - 7-12 Principal and Activities Director
Being a multi-sport athlete in high school can be a tough proposition. There are undoubtedly long hours and practices can be a grind. This does not even take into account that at places like Hampton, students are often involved in activities such as speech, one-act, or robotics which add even more to the high school experience. With all of that being said, I want to highlight this month several of the reasons that going out for multiple sports will positively impact students and their performance.
First, being a multi-sport athlete exposes you to different physical challenges, thereby increasing the overall athleticism of the athlete. Overall athleticism is linked to a higher degree of coordination and fitness level. Plus, it will not hurt in any sport to be more athletic, jumping higher and being faster will benefit all athletic events. While roughly 50% of high school athletes are multi-sport athletes, 88% of college athletes played multiple sports. From this statistic, I want to encourage all athletes who want to play at the next level to consider doing multiple sports.
Next, a multi-sport athlete protects athletes from both burnout and overuse injuries. Burnout can happen when a student focuses on one thing for too long, never gets a break, and never builds back up the excitement for the season. This is also, as a side note, why it is important to be careful with club and youth teams to not wear out young athletes. As far as injury prevention goes, overuse is a common injury among single-sport athletes and bodybuilders alike who focus on just one movement. In the weight room, over-training a quad muscle can lead to a weak hamstring, causing injury when the hamstring is needed to generate force in a competition. Similarly, the same athletic movements can be overdone and lead to injury.
One final reason I want to note is the social aspect and being part of a team. At Hampton (which is usually in the top-5 in Class D in participation) most students do most things. This means that if an athlete decides not to go out for a sport, he or she is most likely going home after school and will not have as much peer interaction. Even if they have a job, working does not create the same memories as hours together in a competitive environment. Two things that I regularly tell kids when I ask them to reconsider going out for a sport are: 1) it will take some time working with your teammates to create the cohesiveness that comes from nothing more than spending time together and 2) even to those athletes who want to train, I remind them that even Olympic athletes have teams to train with. No individual can push themselves as hard as when they have a team counting on them.
While concentrating on one sport, specifically one that is liked the most by an athlete, seems like the natural thing to do, I propose that as a middle/high school student, it is more beneficial to play multiple sports. Specializing is important when the body is developed, such as in college or pro athletes. What makes Hampton so unique is that we have the opportunity to participate in every sport and activity. While it is sometimes inconvenient, we work together as coaches to insure that students do not have to choose because we recognize the benefit of being involved in multiple sports AND activities.
As always, please reach out if you have any questions or concerns, and thank you for reading!