I talked to two people who have experienced the two sport situation. After my conversations, I started asking a new question.
Is it fair that a talented young athlete has to commit to one sport over another before he / she knows his / her full potential / passion in any given sport?
The other day, I was at an orthopedic doctor getting a mysterious bump on my shin looked at. (It turned out to be nothing.) Prior to seeing the doctor, a young assistant came into the room to take down some information. While she was asking me questions like when the lump appeared and what medications do I take and am I allergic to anything etc. She also asked me if I had kids, which led to a conversation about youth sports. She was dressed in sweats and looked very athletic, so I asked her if she was an athlete. She said that she had played basketball for a small division 3 college in Ohio. I asked her if she played any other sports growing up. She mentioned that she played club soccer and AAU basketball. Wow, just like my daughter, CC.
So I asked her the burning question - how did you play both? She said,
"You daughter is going to get lots of pressure to specialize from coaches, single sport teammates and parents of teammates. My advice is don't do specialize for as long as you can. My soccer training helped me become a better basketball player and my basketball training helped me become a better soccer player. And, I did not know which sport that I wanted to pursue in college until 9th grade. Play both as long as you can."I also called a friend of mine to dig a bit deeper into the subject. My friend has two very athletic daughters. The oldest is playing volleyball in college. The youngest just signed a letter of intent to play soccer in college. Both played high level club basketball and volleyball through 8th grade.
Here is what he said after I told him about the pressure we were getting lately:
The Main Point
OK - after three posts with some great dialog, here is what I have concluded for my daughter.
We are going to resist the pressure to specialize until 8th grade, CC is in 5th. We are going to be transparent with the coaches so they know what level of commitment my daughter will be giving. We are going to let "enjoyment" be our guide. My daughter will play as many sports as she wants to play - basketball, volleyball, soccer and who knows maybe softball again or golf - as long as she is having fun.
There was some feedback from coaches during this series of posts who struggle with having a player that is only 80% committed to the program, even though they are 100% committed on the field when they are there.
My feedback to them would be; "You need to coach and make decisions that are right for the team. I need to parent and make right decisions for my daughter." There will be plenty of coaches who will understand and support our decision.
I know that I am going to hear that I am not teaching my daughter commitment. When this happens, I will asked them if all of the kids on the team practice as hard as my daughter does between team practices. I will also remind them that this is youth sports, not pro or college.
When someone tells me that my daughter will have a better chance to get a college scholarship if she specializes, I'll ask them to show me the evidence. Kids leaving a sport due to overuse injuries or burnout from specialization is rampant and just as many experts claim that sampling, cross training in more than one sport, is actually beneficial.