The football season has officially ended. That means it’s time to start thinking about what’s next and for any competitive athlete, there’s only two choices.
Play a different sport or begin preparing for next season.
If there aren’t any aspirations to play at the next level follow the 5:5 rule. If it won’t make a difference in the next 5 years don’t waste more than 5 minutes worrying about it.
But If you’re reading this there’s something left to be lost by not considering the next step. As a strength & conditioning coach I’ve been around high school and collegiate sports for nearly a decade and kids have told me their experiences of moving from season to season throughout their high school career and i’ve heard [and lived] the experiences of kids ending a long football season step into the weight room the Monday after their last game of the season.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly rom someone that’s walked that path, listened to the regrets, and heard the experiences of both sides of that coin.
Playing another sport. Not only have a spent almost a decade working with athletes in the weight room, i’ve spent almost as much time as a football coach working under some of the most successful coaches in the state of Oregon. In my 9 years as a football coach I was a part of 7 conference titles and a state championship. I’m not bragging but making a point. The two coaches I’ve worked under are incredibly successful and both of them heavily advocate for players to move onto seasons of other sports for a handful of reasons. Some are universal and some are specific to the athlete.
Coaches, college coaches included, LOVE kids-athletes, that are competitive. Not just in the weight room or on the field but competitive in all things they do. They want that kid that’s going to fight for that A in Physics. They want the kid that’s going to be play their PE teacher in badminton and work harder than he’s ever worked to beat him. Not because they want to win, although that certainly helps, but because they have an innate sense of pride. They want to do their best. They want to leave it on the field. In the weight room. In the classroom. They want to give it their all because they want to do their best.
Kids who move on to other sports continue to learn how to compete in a healthy environment. They learn how to cope with struggles and difficulties. It’s a vital skill. Not just for future athletic endeavors but in life. When you’re applying for that internship you’re competing. Courting a girlfriend/boyfriend is competition. Vying for that promotion is competition. We face competitive situations every day and learning the coping skills of not winning is necessary for mental health.
Participating in another sport also keeps kids active and helps develop healthy motor patterns. I can’t tell you how many athletes we’ve seen at Dynamic that come in to train with us during their off-season and can’t execute some of the most basic skills like skipping, jumping rope, or effectively hop from one foot to another.
These are all skills that have been scientifically linked to healthy brain function. Even infants that learn to walk before they crawl face a laundry list of mental health issues. The brain is hardwired to the body in a way that we don’t fully understand but science can tell us that if you’re not taking time to move in ways outside of your sport, the athlete can be in a world of trouble down the road.
Lastly, and usually athlete specific, is simply staying in shape. The last thing any coach wants to see is some once badass, pudgy looking athlete come walking into the gym or out onto the field after 6 months of playing Xbox and drinking Mt. Dew. Playing another sport is a great way to stay in shape for that one sport.
Even with after all of these there are plenty of other benefits to playing another sport but there can be some negative consequences as well.
Weight & strength.
Kids who are going from
a With such an on the go schedule of school, weights, practice, games, an active lifestyle, and an overall poor knowledge of nutrition many athletes that participate year round sports struggle to put on healthy weight or develop sound tools for physical performance.
If the decision is to go out and find a strength & conditioning coach or personal trainer it’s important to do your due diligence. Make sure that the person you end up working with is aligned with you personal philosophy on athletic development.