Specialization Has a Purpose
It was the noise that Andy Nussbaum heard every day in a side gym during Naperville Central girls basketball practice.
Thwack ... thwack ... thwack!
That repetition was Natalie Wunderlich preparing for softball season.
While the competition was busy on the basketball court, Wunderlich was getting better. One need only watch a Redhawks game this spring to see that a pitcher already one of the best in the area has improved.
The ideal of the multisport athlete has been romanticized over the years, from Jim Brown to Bo Jackson. I admire three-sport high school players like Fentons Samantha Rubright.
The reality, though, is that much can be gained by specializing in one sport.
First, the obvious.
Time spent concentrating on one sport, your "A" game if you will, is time well spent. Fine-tuning a jump shot. Taking hundreds of grounders in the gym or working to develop a second or third pitch.
Just like a Major League Baseball prospect honing his craft in the Arizona Fall League, a high school athlete intent on taking his or her skills to the next level is well-served maximizing their potential. Much like you cannot improve your foreign language skills by speaking solely English, you cannot get better at say, basketball, by running track in the spring.
Those athletes who choose to specialize in one sport clearly have sights set on playing in college. …