We’re strong believers in playing as many sports as possible when you’re younger (so long as you’re limiting yourself to one sport a season). However, one of the more difficult parts of playing multiple sports is transitioning from one season to the next. Depending on your age and competition level, you might end up missing some captains’ practices or even preseason practices. This can put you in catch up mode from the get-go and put you even further behind those who are concentrating on just one sport. Here are three tips to help make sure you start every season in the best position to succeed.
1.) Communicate with your coaches and captains
If the sport you’re currently playing can affect your readiness for your next season, you need to communicate this to your coaches and captains.
Even if your current sport won’t cause you to miss any practices, you should still let them know that you’re transitioning from a different sport and haven’t had as much time to prep for the upcoming season.
Hopefully, your coach will try to give your more reps early on so that you can catch up to any players that have had the opportunity to train more in the weeks leading up to the season. Depending on the sport transition there also may be some bad habits you need to break. For example, when I was younger I played hockey goalie and lacrosse goalie, and it would take me a little while to stop dropping to my knees and trying to “stack my pads” while playing lacrosse. You want to focus on breaking these habits early so that they don’t nag you throughout the season. If you don’t communicate with your coaches or captains, they may be less understanding of any early season struggles you may have.
2.) Find time to knock the rust off
There are certain aspects of many sports that don’t lend themselves to individual practice, such as running point on a fast break in basketball. However, you could still practice dribbling down the court as quickly as possible with your head up. You need to find time to focus on knocking the rust off the fundamentals.
For basketball, find a few hours to concentrate on your dribbling and layups, or for lacrosse, focus on cradling and wall ball. You can choose what drills to focus on, but avoid working on complicated things like behind the back passes, as those aren’t going to provide as much benefit as making sure your fundamentals are sound. If you want to get the most of your time, you should hire a private coach. They can help you really focus on getting your fundamentals back in order, while identifying and improving the areas of your game that need the most work. They can also be helpful in working on certain areas of your game that can’t be practiced on your own. Whatever you decide to do to knock off the rust is your choice, but make sure you do something. Playing a sport the season before is no excuse for not finding a few hours to work on fundamentals.
3.) Don’t expect to be at your best immediately
It can be frustrating to come back from a long break and realize that your skills have eroded since you last played. Don’t fear—it will all come back to you! You need to put in extra work if you want to get back to your top form. Remember, you’re likely at a disadvantage compared to your teammates, as they may not be coming off a different sports season. If you’ve already spoken with your coach, they won’t be expecting you to be at 100% immediately, and hopefully they will work with you to get back to game ready.
The biggest mistake you can make is to let early season issues affect your mental state, as that will only compound the issue and make it more difficult to get back on track.
It can be tempting to choose just one sport to focus on, but this increases your likelihood of burnout and may not even be all that beneficial. Playing multiple sports will help you be a more well-rounded athlete, which will help you with any sport you play. We’ve heard from many college coaches that they look for athletes who are well rounded and compete in multiple sports as opposed to just single-sport athletes. Don’t think that by not focusing on just one sport you’re hurting your chances of playing in college, because that’s not the case. Just remember that practice makes perfect and when you haven’t played a sport for a long period of time you need to take the appropriate steps to get back up to speed.