Great people make great coaches. Great coaches make great people.
It is a constant. The two are connected, and rely on one another. Thankfully so.
My question for today is:
What happens when a two or three sport athlete meets a single sport coach?
That happens more than is discussed, and often leads to some conflicts of interest, conflicts of purpose, and conflicts in the direction of the most important person in the equation. The multiple sport student athlete.
I feel like I need to repeat this. The most important person in the coach-athlete equation is the athlete. The student-athlete. The multiple sport student-athlete. As unpopular as this may sound, this little fact is far too often forgotten. Ready for this? The coaches are there for the student athletes interests. Not the parents. Not the administration. Not the fans. Not the coach himself. The coach is there for the student athlete.
It is far too common to hear stories of coaches coaxing, nudging, encouraging, and down right demanding that the student athlete not participate in another sport. Studies have shown that participating in multiple sports gives these student athletes advantages over their single sport counterparts. From developing a diverse set of skills, to better conditioning and the using of different muscle groups, there are many advantages.
Why would a coach push for single sport participation?
Selfishness. That is the answer that comes to mind immediately. Pure selfishness. Thinking solely about their team, their sport, and how the student athlete benefits THEM. I know that some coaches will say that its so that the player can pay more attention to the sport that they are best at, or more attention and time to develop the skills needed for them to play that single sport at the next level. Or maybe, they will say that the student athlete is not good enough, and needs to work harder. Or even that they are doing the student athlete a favor. They are helping them.
No. They aren’t.
Most high level, top of the standard college coaches will tell you that they prefer student athletes who have learned to use their skills in different situations. Each sport requires a different skill set, and different problem solving ability. A different conditioning program. Use of different muscle groups. Different abilities to adjust to what the sports puts in front of them.
I am not sure why this is still an issue. Coaches should be thrilled that the student athlete is learning to work in small spaces, getting longer in strides or shorter in strides, to be more explosive in traffic, and to be explosive in space. Most coaches would appreciate the assistance in getting an athlete better during his improvement season, rather than using the same muscles and skills that he or she already has. You would think that getting more comfortable with their bodies in different situations would be a benefit, and not a problem.
What I would hope is that the great coaches will remember why they are there, and for whom they are there. What I would hope is that the parents remind both the coaches and the student athletes of what their constant top focus and priorities are. The student athlete. And that the parents will remember that as well. They should be the light and not the corner. They should be the yes instead of the caution. They should be the parent, loving, directing, and celebrating the student athlete.
As for the student athlete, please remember why you are there. Why we are all there.
As a coach, parent, or other, please remember who you are there for.