One of the most common areas of conflict for athletes as they enter high school is how to handle trying to play multiple different sports. At younger ages, great athletes usually excel at just about all sports, and want to continue that at their high schools. However, depending on which area of the country, most of the big sports such as football, basketball, soccer, and baseball can share a season or overlap each other. Even if the actual playing seasons don’t conflict, there is usually offseason conditioning, practices, or leagues that coaches want their players to participate in. What leaves young athletes most in a predicament is when coaches pressure them to pick one sport over another.
The two most frequent issues we would hear as travel coaches from parents would be regarding how to handle a coach that tells players they are required to participate in the fall in order to play in the spring, and also how playing more than one sport would effect being recruited to play in college. There are many coaches out there who, for example, tell their players they cannot play football or basketball in the fall and winter because they will miss too much preseason baseball activities and therefore will be behind the curve in the spring. If this is the case in your situation, and you really want to play those other sports, and are good enough at them to put in the time and effort, then the best option is to just go talk to the coach one-on-one about working something out. The fact of the matter is, playing and working out with other sports can often times get you in much better shape than doing high school fall baseball conditioning, but if they insist, then you may have to pick one or another. If you really excel at another sport and the coach still insists, then just know from a recruiting standpoint you can still play summer travel ball on the right team and still get recruiting exposure without playing high school. That is not the optimal choice though, usually coaches will work with players who show the effort to be dedicated and can work something out.
In regards to the effect of playing multiple sports on recruiting, there are two different angles. The first is the example of Colin Kaepernick, this years Super Bowl quarterback for the 49ers. Kaepernick excelled at both baseball and football. In fact he received more numerous scholarship offers, including from schools such as Notre Dame, to play baseball, and was even drafted by the Cubs. His only football scholarship offer was to the University of Nevada. He stuck with football and ended up making it to the top. There is a great article regarding his recruitment from USA Today here. What his story shows is that if you are a great athlete, playing more sports simply gives you more options in how and where you are recruited. You don’t have to “put all of your eggs in one basket”. Unfortunately, most people do not have the football skills and the 92 mph fastball to go along with it.
For those players who feel baseball is their best sport, and they are much better baseball players than whatever other sport, it may or not be in your best interest to only concentrate on baseball. College baseball coaches do actually like to see players who play other sports, because it shows they are great and dedicated athletes. Playing football, for example, can also show a person is mentally tough. Ditching baseball for a season or two does not write you off in any sense. However, where the issue comes in is whether or not you are giving up opportunities such as playing on a quality travel team or missing some top showcases during the offseason. These sort of things, from a recruiting standpoint, may not be worth missing out on. Unfortunately, because many young players are now committing to colleges early in their high school careers, it is leading kids to become hyper focused on one sport alone.
Showing you are a well-rounded athlete through sports other than baseball can do nothing but help you in your goal to be recruited. As long as you don’t let your skills lapse, and make sure you do the necessary things like playing travel ball during the summer, you don’t need to listen to those who say college coaches are looking for all-or-nothing baseball players. You never know, you may end up more successful in that other sport!