Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Multi-sport Athletes

Posted by admin March - 15 - 2011 - Tuesday

I commented a couple of weeks ago about “losing” players to our spring sports teams that were starting practice. I was talking with a friend at the fitness center today and he asked what I’m doing as far as off-season work-outs at my new school. I told him about how our numbers were very good until most of them left to start their spring sport practices. He asked, “doesn’t that upset you? How can your kids get any better if they’re not working on football year round?!” I think this voices the paranoia that a lot of us feel about “hording” our players. The Age of Specialization is so entrenched that we had 3 potential football players refuse to come out for our middle school team last fall because their AAU basketball coach told them that they needed to be playing basketball all fall!!! One of the boys actually had Allen Iverson tell him that he should go ahead and play football. But… the AAU coach was standing there and said, “No, football will hurt your chances of making the elite team this spring.” The coach’s opinion won out. But “hoorah” for Allen Iverson! This specializing in one sport at such an early age is NOT good for kids. But, we as coaches put that pressure on them; so they think they have to pick one and spend their whole high school career focusing on that sport. I just don’t think that’s good for the player.

If you are concerned about your football players running track or playing lacrosse, I say “don’t worry.” Yes, the weight room is important. If you can set up an early morning weight lifting schedule where kids can come in before school, try it. However, I believe that the in-season sport takes priority. If the in-season coach doesn’t want him to lift, you need to respect that. Would you want the Wrestling coach at your school telling your football players that they have to be in the wrestling room 3 times a week in October and November at 6 am to get ready for wrestling season?!! I don’t think so!!! It works both ways!

I still think it’s beneficial to the high school athlete to compete in different sports. Frankly, just for the sake of competing. There’s nothing like testing your quarterback’s intestinal fortitude by lining up in the blocks to start a 100 m. track race! He’ll experience things you can never teach him just by competing in those races. Just “drink the specialization koolaid” and get in your head that you can’t be successful unless all of your athletes lift with you for the entire off season. There are benefits to letting them participate in other sports.

3 Responses to “Multi-sport Athletes”

  1. Josh Wolfram says:

    I think you are exctly right in this article! I was a 3 sport athlete even 4 my frosh year. I lifted weights throughout the year in the athletic conditioning class, but the in-season took priority, so if we had a game then we backed off a little in the weight room that day!

  2. Ray Lowe says:

    Coach,

    I also agree with you. As a new coach in a very small school, nearly all of my players are invovled in track or baseball. I will need to practice patience, put together a good summer workout program, and take it from there.

  3. Joe says:

    Wish more coaches, especially in other sports, thought that way. I do think that we, as football coaches, are more inclined to think this way since we can really only play our sport from August to December. With fall baseball and soccer, cross country and winter track, AAU Basketball and year-round wrestling tournaments, there are more chances to work on other sports outside of the high school season.

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