Multi-Sport Athletes Are 'Desirable' to College Coaches

PHOTO BY ADAM SCOTT

Team USA's Kristen Carr excelled at soccer and lacrosse, going semi-pro in both sports.


This article appears as part of the “Myth Busters” package in the September/October edition of US Lacrosse Magazine. Don’t get the mag? Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription.

It’s the 10,000 Hour Rule, right? Not so fast.

There’s certainly a lot to be gained by playing more lacrosse, but playing other sports, in addition to lacrosse, seems to be the better path towards becoming the best lacrosse player you can be.

A recent NCAA study found that 88 percent of men’s Division I players and 83 percent of women’s Division I players were multi-sport athletes into their teens. Not only did all 19 U.S. women’s team players that just competed in Europe for the World Cup and International World Games play at least two sports in high school, 16 of them played at least three sports.

At the most recent US Lacrosse Convention, Maryland women’s lacrosse coach Cathy Reese brought that point up and stressed the importance of encouraging multi-sport participation to the youth, club and high school coaches at her session.

“You guys are getting it from everywhere,” Reese said. "Basketball wants you full-time. Soccer wants you full-time. Lacrosse wants you full-time. Just encourage your players to be well-rounded and don’t be the reason why we’re limiting them and really funneling them into only one sport.”







What’s the danger in concentrating on only one sport too early?

It’s more than just opinions. Last year, a study commissioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations and run through the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health found that athletes that specialized in one sport were twice as likely to sustain a lower extremity injury than multi-sport athletes. And that’s just one drawback.

“There are a number of reasons why playing multiple sports help you develop as a lacrosse player,” said T.J. Buchanan, technical director for the Lacrosse Athlete Development Model for US Lacrosse. “There are skills that transfer over from other sports that can increase your lacrosse IQ. You’re using different muscles which can help reduce the risk of injury, and from a psychological standpoint, you’re working with different coaches and teammates that can keep you refreshed.”

For those reasons and more, colleges are much more likely to recruit multi-sport athletes.”

 “The multi-sport athlete is something we look for, it’s a desirable thing,” Roanoke men’s lacrosse coach Bill Pilat said. “Besides the athleticism, they’ve played in more competitive games and they’ve been coached by different people. They’ve had to adapt to different styles, and I think that leads to being more coachable.”

What about specialty positions, like a goalie or faceoff specialist?

Pilat, a former standout goalie himself, has spent more than three decades instructing young goalies at camps around the nation. The earliest he recommends specialized goalie training is at age 10, but even then he doesn’t see the need to lock in on one position.

“With those younger guys I encourage them to get out there and play and have fun,” Pilat said. “The 10-11-12 year-olds should be playing other positions. If you play half a game in the goal and half a game on defense, it’s almost like being a two-sport athlete.”

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