Many parents believe that they need their child to pick and specialize in one sport at an early age to have a chance to reach the college or professional levels. I even had a coach tell me that some travel coaches were telling the parents of eight-year-olds that their child needed to specialize at that age or they would never be good enough to make a high school team.
The coaches who support early specialization generally have something to gain because of it, and the parents have their child’s best interest at heart, but often misunderstand the athlete development process.
The Los Angeles’ Times Eric Sondheimer added this post about multi-sport athletes:
Eddie Bane, the director of scouting for the Angels, says in an e-mail that his organization and others “encourage young men to play as many sports as possible. We like to see these quality athletes that play football, basketball, soccer, golf or whatever sport they are attracted towards.”
Bane says, “One of my first questions to my scouts is, ‘What kind of athlete is this guy?’ I want the player to be able to have a lot of skills, and those skills are not enhanced by getting on a travel team from the time they are 13 years old and playing baseball year round. I believe that really limits an athlete when they specialize that young.”