Our school goal in athletics at MHS has always
been to win the all sports trophy and the conference championship in our
sport. We have been pretty successful in achieving those goals. Mandarin
High School has been one of the top athletic programs in the county and
particularly in the Gateway Conference. I believe this is directly due to
the philosophy of our coaches and athletic department that we encourage and
support athletes participating in multi-sports. Please make sure we are
encouraging this with our athletes.
Sports should be encouraged from a young age. But, it is better to encourage
participation in a variety of athletic activities to develop athletic skills
that transfer across all sports. This will lessen the dangers like overuse
injuries and burn out.
Sport Specialization - Some interesting facts you might not know!
The debate about specialization is a hot one, especially if you are losing
athletes who are committing year round to another sport! Here are some pro's
and con's of specialization:
1. Specializing athletes peak at age 15-16 vs. 18+ for the multi-sport
2. Specialists are more likely to drop/burn out around age 18. 3
3. Specialists have a higher rate of injury.
4. Specialists are less consistent performers compared to multi-sport
Here are 2 other dangers involved in participating in only one sport.
The College scholarship illusion: As much as parents want their children to
receive athletic scholarships, the truth is that a very small percentage of
athletes actually reach this goal. A scholarship in itself should not be the
driving force behind choosing to participate in only one sport. A person
should not bank their health, happiness and future on the small chance of a
"full ride." The majority of athletes will benefit more from a variety of
athletic experiences even if no scholarship offer ever comes. Besides, most
college recruiters are looking for the best all-around athletes. One of
their first questions is often: "What else did you do besides playing
(insert primary sport here)?" There is evidence to support this. For
example, look at the draft picks each year in the NFL. The majority of those
players did not specialize in one sport during their high school careers.
How often have you heard this on draft day: "We are going to draft the best
overall athlete that is available." Playing more than one sport is the best
way to develop into that overall athlete.
Not achieving your full athletic potential: While focusing on one sport will
help you develop the necessary sport-specific skills, you will not develop
other athletic skills that would transfer to your primary activity. Speed,
balance, mental focus, jumping, twisting are all stressed differently in
different sports. Everything you do to become a better athlete will also
make you a better (insert sport here) player.
More and more research is showing that early specialization does not ensure
athletic success. We hear about the few who do blossom from early
specialization but what about the vast majority who don't "make it big" in
their chosen sport? How many athletes can you think of that have become
successful by not specializing? How about Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, Jim
Thorpe, Babe Didrickson, John Elway, and Marion Jones to name just a few.
source: Tim Kauppinen
Mandarin High School
Athletic Director &
Head Baseball Coach