By Wayne Mazzoni (Assistant Coach at Sacred Heart University)
One of the topics that ALWAYS comes up is the issue of the single sport vs. multi-sport athlete.
Here is my take on the pros and cons of just playing baseball year round. I will tell you up front, I am 100000% for the multi-sport athlete, but to be fair, here are both sides, starting with the pro’s of being a baseball player only.
Baseball being a hand eye skill sport, requires lots of practice to master hitting, fielding, and pitching.
The more reps you get, the fact is, you will get better at those skills.
While even areas like Florida, Texas, and California most athletes are multi-sport ones, the fact is the better weather allows them to play more outdoor baseball then us here in New England.
As I am sure you know, more big leaguers come from these three states then the rest combined.
The reality is that the best high school and college players in our area as every bit as good as the ones in the warmer climates, but the “average” kid is flat out better down south and out west then in the colder areas.
The fact of the matter is, the more time you spend on baseball, the more time you have to develop and get seen in terms of college recruiting.
While the biggest time to get recruited is, and will always be, the summer, the fact is, if you play baseball in the fall you have more time to get seen then those playing other sports. Same with the winter.
There are camps, clinics, and events that can get you noticed and recruited all year round, winter included.
Now, we get to the con’s of just playing baseball.
Mind you, if you don’t like any other sport, then just play baseball. No one should force you to play another sport (though prep schools require students to play three sports as opposed to taking PE classes). But if you are being talked out of playing your second and/or third sport, here is the case against it.
The fact is, how many swings (ground balls, pitches) can you take/make a year, a month, a week, a day before it just becomes counterproductive?
When do you wear out from that grind mentally? Physically? Emotionally?
Develop As An Athlete
Being good at baseball, means being a good overall athlete. So if soccer, wrestling, football, basketball, tennis, golf, volleyball, hockey, help you become a better athlete, it will only help you on the diamond.
Further, sports, any sport at any level is about competition.
What’s better, try to win a basketball game in December or hit off a tee? Win of course. The pros in just about every team sport were multi-sport athletes as kids.
Pure Athletic Time
High school is your last time to play sports for the pure fun of it; to play with friends, in your local community.
College athletics are great, but much more work, and stress.
If you give up a second sport, you will NEVER get those years back. I can’t tell you how many players I have coached that regretted not playing another season of a sport they gave up.
In college, if you make a baseball team, you will play baseball, year round, for four years. Why rush that?
If baseball is your first love, play on a summer team, find time to hit, field, pitch to stay sharp during your other season if you need to, but to give it up, I feel is a shame.