Specialization


#1

I was just wondering the opinoin of everyone out there.

Is specialization a good thing or bad thing when it comes to other sports and pitching. I know I was never forced to drop other sports to focus on my pitching, but I thought in order to be the best I could be I needed to work at it 12mos straight.

Ive heard of people running track or cross country for endurance or playing basketball much the same way.


#2

Ideally, you’d like to see a 52 week training program, but that really applies to a few. Most are unwilling to make that commitment, so instead of not being involved in any athletics except for baseball, it’s better to keep them athletically involved.

You hear stories of Nolan Ryan throwing a football as part of his training program, obviously, different than playing football and the increased chances of injury, but it could have benefits. Especially, since Baseball follows Basketball, which is more about aerobic exercises and short bursts of acceleration.


#3

I’m only a freshman and I’ve choose specialization at this point. I played basketball but wasn’t interested in keeping it going through HS (living in Lexington with Rupp Arena a few miles away really makes basketball hardcore even if UK isn’t doing to hot). It’s a matter of time, I wouldn’t be able to do much pitching in the winter if I went 2-sport.

I agree that 52 weeks is a must if you want to reach the top. I think basketball offers good conditioning however the best baseball specific conditioning will be done for baseball and there’s no way around it.
(redundant but true)
I’ve wanted to play professional baseball since I was little, so I have decided that my chances are better if I’m able to maintain one focus all year.
On the same note touched a golf club for over a year (and don’t plan to start) I enjoy it very much but stopped because it messed with my hitting a lot.

If a pitcher/player wouldn’t keep a commitment of year round baseball, I think it would probably be best to do another sport, but eventually one has to make a choice…


#4

as a high school baseball coach in a successful program that has had pitchers sign college scholarships each of the last 3 years - 2 last year, 2 all state pitchers the last 3 years, pitcher of the year in our conference the last 3 years, etc. i believe you need to play every sport you want to play. all those pitchers played other sports. we encourage our kids to play other sports. i know the majority of the college coaches ive talked to like kids that played other sports - especially football. they always ask.


#5

Boy, I’ve got a feeling that you’ve opened a virtual “Pandora’s Box” in that you’ve initiated discussion on a very touchy topic that will reveal many human ills, but still leave us with “hope”!

I know you hit a nerve with me so here goes…

Having coached baseball for a great number of years - from little league through American Legion - I honestly believe the choice should be made by the player NOT the parent or coach. The problem here becomes “How old should the player be to make that decision?” Many of us dreamed of making the pros, but we all know that the overwhelming number of athletes in any given sport never even play in college and while I agree that improving an athlete’s specific skills is of the utmost importance, the number one “goal” when playing any sport should be to have fun.

Over the years I’ve seen a transition from “learning while doing” (driving by ballparks and seeing kids picking their own teams/playing the positions they want to - where you could literally see the fun on their faces) to “informational instruction” (kids now specializing in a particular position doing the exact things directed by the “information-age” coach - where fewer faces were fun-filled) to “high-tech/computerization instruction” (where the athlete can literally be given a “report card” of his/her performance via laptop computer and/or Ipod upon conclusion of his/her involvement - immediate assessment of the good and the bad - immediate knowledge of success or failure) Very few - if any - could find “fun” in that?

Looking through yearbooks while researching candidates for our school’s Hall of Fame I have seen a definite decline in the number of athletes who play multiple sports. It appears that we have now created a generation of athletes who feel (and some even BELIEVE) that they can’t compete at a higher level unless they restrict their involvement/participation to ONE sport. While no doubt some athletes really love their sport - to practice ONE sport - daily - weekly - monthly - yearly…where is the fun in that? Though I agree that appropriate training and specialized instruction is vital to improving an athlete’s performance level, to limit that potential education to ONE sport, particularly at an early age, is wrong.

If an athlete truly possesses the potential to obtain an athletic scholarship or to make the pros, then the specialization may be justified. However, the questions now become “When is that level of talent/ability recognized and when should the specialization begin?”" In grammar school or junior high? Looking at the greatest percentage of athletes of this age and ability level, I don’t think so.

Sadly, I’ve seen a number of young athletes who had begun “specializing” before they reached high school, lose the interest and/or intensity in that sport when they realized they didn’t have the talent to get the scholarship or make the pros. With their playingtime decreased and their contributions minimal, the daily-weekly-monthly-yearly participation in that ONE sport was no longer fun. When they attempted to turn to another sport they often became intimidated or frustrated because they were too far behind in the knowledge necessary/basic skills needed to compete with those who had already been playing that sport for awhile.

Unless the talent is so extreme and the ability is so obvious (most of which can’t really be determined until the athlete has physically matured), I believe a boy or girl should be given the opportunity to experience as many sports as he or she wishes to participate in.

I miss watching the softball pitcher win the basketball game with a critical free throw or the football linebacker win the hockey game by making an incredible save in net. To me, an athlete, particularly one who is really talented, can have a great experience in more than one sport and giving them that opportunity is our responsibility. “Pressuring” them to select one sport so that specialization may begin eliminates that chance…

But that’s only ONE opinion - Mine!

Now that my “book” is finshed - I’ve had my say - let the debate continue!


#6

Skwezeplay,

I love your post. Being a high school teacher and coach, I want our best athletes participating in ALL sports so our total athletic program can be successful. Take a minute and ponder this fact, at least in Omaha, the best football programs are the best baseball programs and I wouldn’t be afraid to form the hypotheses that this correlates in all geographical areas. I was reading an article that quoted Dave Van Horn, the head coach at the University of Arkansas, as saying,” If a player just plays baseball a read flag immediately goes up.” He was referring to his recruitment of Jake Dugger, an Omaha product, who was All-State in football as well as baseball. I know talking with professional baseball scouts that they love players that that participate in multiple sports because they have the ability to make adjustments better than single sport athletes. I totally agree. By playing other sports, a baseball player is using their fast twitch muscles all the time. They are getting in and exploding out of an athletic position on a daily basis. I do not care who is running your weight training program, it does not compare to competing in a game against another opponent.

Also, a player is being exposed to different coaches and adapting to different ways of teaching and communicating. Just think how your players can benefit from that! I really try to promote player participation in other sports. Unfortunately, our players have not been totally responsive, but they are getting better. I love talking about this topic and get fired up over the subject.


#7

I have a little bit of a different take on this due to my son’s experience. When he was younger (Jr. High) he was very large, and an amazing offensive/defensive lineman. On a very large team, he was the only player who went both ways, and he was very good.

I began to have thoughts of DI, full ride football, two sport (football and baseball) athlete. He is a LHP/1B in baseball, and also quite skilled but not necessarily extraordinary. The summer between Sophmore and Junior year, he was 6 ft. and 235 lbs. Somewhere during that sophmore spring-summer he decided that he REALLY wanted to play baseball at the next level. A high level DI coach at the school he is interested in told him he needed to lose some weight and become faster in order to play at that level.

My son said to me, Dad, in football they want me to bulk up, gain weight, lift weights to become stronger. I don’t want to be a 260 or 280 lbs lineman. I want to be a 200 lbs pitcher. I left the decision to him, and although I would dearly miss watching him play football, I also did not want to see him have to bulk up to 250-300 lbs in order to compete at the collegiate level. He quit football, and has lost 20 lbs in the last six months in his quest to become a better pitcher/baseball player.

I would have loved to see him continue with both sports, but sometimes the goals and requirements are mutually exclusive, and one has to make a decision about what is important.


#8

Opinion of a high school specialized athlete

While I can understand the multisport pros I would definately say there is room for the specialized athlete, however agree with some of whichc was said, I think the TRUE specialized athlete isn’t that common.

First off I would say that it must be all of the athletes descision.

I realized some people say that an athlete should do other sports because it gets their muscles working and such, and that is shows they are dynamic however, if a player is mature enough to make a decision of single sport than I think they can keep it going.

It was said that students often begin to not enjoy it or something. Their are exceptions where they will enjoy it, one being myself. I’m surrounded by baseball and enjoy every minute. Baseball of actual team practice and games runs February to end of July. August is usually off (I still work on my own) and thenn september is fall ball. Since my last game of fall ball I have been ready to play my spring season, and working to prepare.
Believe it or not their are High Schoolers that can set goals.

For instance the football players usually complain that they have to go lift after school (their program isn’t even that intense) Although our school is top in the State we don’t have baseball team conditioning in preseason, however you can find almost all our varcity starters working out at the indoor baseball facility several days a week, most of whom are specialized) I make my own decision that i want to better myself so work out on my own, decided by myself, for myself.

I think their is something to be said that scouts like multisport becacuse they are dynamic. I think this is a generalization. Some people say they are specialized when infact they are not, I wouldn’t count the lazy left fielder that only works at practice and never does anything on their own.

If you are criticising someone like I just described about being specialized I COMPLETELY agree.


I just wanted to point out that while they aren’t incredibly common, their are plenty of athletes out there that want to take their game to high levels, and love the game so much that they can be mature about making a decision and sticking with it. I do realized that you don’t HAVE to specialize to play high levels (probably our two best ballplayers are getting letters from top colleges in baseball AND football)

I just think for some specialization can be the way to go. I might as well break it down from a personal standpoint

Baseball: self taught, began read what Mills said at age 7 (I’m not your average kid, if anyone feels that is debatable we can go deeper, lol), a big help was a book our school library had, forwarded by Seaver, Gibson, and others, whish I could remember the title. I’ve have read and researched many other baseball writer since. I’m probably the only kid i know that has tapes of several major league pitchers motions, as well as hitters, and use this to better myself. (My dad played baseball through like 3rd grade, this is all my decision) I love the sport, and am still learning today. I love every aspect any every minute (well except when you get beaned while hitting, lol) I will note I have not chose to specialize till HS, any earlier and I do think it is the wrong choice.

Basketball: I could have played, but I don’t enjoy it near as much as baseball (and they conflict slightly).
Football: Flag was a blast, QB’d for the championship team, but I don’t enjoy contact sports all that much
Hockey: It’s not even a high school sport where I live
Track: conflicting season

All of this against how much I love baseball, I definatly choose baseball.

If any one they can explain to me why playing something like basketball as well would be a better choice, feel free, I’m listening

No I’m not trying to make this personal in any aspect, I’m just trying to get my point across.


#9

I do not have vidoes of pros on tape, but I do have them on my computer and I break them down as well. Also my dad has taken about 10million pictures of me and we still go through them every game on the computer through his didgtal camera to break down my mechanics either over the phone or face to face.

I love going through pictures and seeing how I have developed and how much I can impove and have improved.


#10

Well, I guess I stand corrected lol.

Btw, Rtusk, are any of the videos are your computer small enough to email?
I wouldn’t mind adding some more footage to look at if possible.
Just curious