(StriveFar) Should soccer athletes play multiple sports, or focus only on soccer? If so, is there an age when the athlete needs to give up other sports to concentrate on soccer?
(Coach Kohlenstein) When an athlete is developing, playing more than one sport helps the athlete identify the sports they like. They may think they like a certain sport until they experience other sports.
The second part, as you grow, playing other sports develops other parts of your ability that playing one sport would not.
For example: If you are a point guard in basketball and you are on a breakaway; that learning might help you later on when you are on a breakaway on the soccer field and you have a 3 on 2 situation. You can fake someone like you are going to the right and then play it to the left. Due to the nature of the game, players experience this situation all of the time in basketball.
The willingness (coaches and parents) to allow players to play more than one sport develops them both physically and mentally so they can make quick decisions and choices. It improves eye-hand, eye-foot, and eye-head coordination, things that you need when playing soccer.
The next part, play the sport depending on how good you are at the sport. If you are the top hockey player in the state, then you keep playing hockey along with soccer. There are some things that are cross training between the two sports; the movements in hockey and basketball are very similar. But, if you are on the hockey team and sitting on the end of the bench and playing one shift a game and it is taking away from your ability to get better at soccer or another sport, then it is not always wise to waste your time.
The age you decide to focus on a single sport is different for everyone. It generally happens around middle school / high school and what you choose depends on your ability at each sport sport. If you are still mentally into both sports, keep going for it. I don’t think you can make decisions at such an early age like we (clubs and coaches) require the players to do. I think you will have a better all around athlete if they play more than one sport. There are all sorts of athletes that have been able to do two sports. Hakeem Olajuwon one of the all time great basketball players played soccer; he was a goalkeeper. [when he was recruited by the University of Houston to play basketball he gave up soccer]
(StriveFar) What happens when the demand of one sport takes over the ability to play both sports?
(Coach Kohlenstein) You have to go with what you really want to do or find someone (club or coach) that is going to let you play the sports you want to play. You may have to find a different club or High School to play for. You have to go back to being honest with yourself – are you really going to progress as far in either sport if you do both? If you can do both on a high level, someone is going to let you do it.
If you want to be a college soccer player, and you are a junior on your High School basketball team coming on in at “mop-up” time, basketball may not be the best use of your time. The same can go the other way; if you are the best point guard in the state and you are not getting on the soccer field, you have to question your objective.
Are you getting the results for the effort you are putting into it?
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