In generations before ours, any athletic teenager would spend their time playing multiple sports and working to perfect their skills in all of them. They would rush home from one practice to merely change uniforms, try to refill their worn-out body through quick snacks, and once again be on their way to their next practice. It was almost a given: if you were athletic, you played more than one sport.
This generation, however, does not. Serious athletes tend to specialize in one sport rather than spending their time participating in multiple.
Juniors Jacob Windle and Meghan Breeden are no different. While research continues to prove the flaws of being a one-sport athlete, they’ve both hung up other uniforms in order to focus on a single sport.
“With two sports, it’s difficult to master both,” Windle said, “If you commit yourself to one, it’s easier to really focus on that.”
Athletes have different reasons as to why they decided to switch to playing only one sport. Windle, a devoted long-distance runner, quit soccer to focus solely on his running career.
“Running requires a massive time commitment and, with the amount of miles we run, we wouldn’t really be able to do anything else without injuring ourselves,” Windle said. “I still miss soccer but I can watch the game by watching it professionally or watching my brother play. So I’m just sticking with running for now.”
An injury ended Breeden’s basketball career. She tore her meniscus in her left knee the day before basketball tryouts of her sophomore year and decided it would be best for her health and her injury to stop playing basketball.
Windle explained that since quitting soccer, he has taken running very seriously. He puts more time into his athletics now than he did prior to specializing in one sport.
“I spend a lot more time in my sport now. I spend about two and a half hours at practice a day,” Windle said. “About two or three times a week I’ll get up early in the morning and go for a 20 minute run. So I put up to three hours into cross country and track a day.”
Lately, studies have begun showing that one-sport athletes are more prone to injuries when compared to their multi-sport counterparts. Athletes that only play one sport are constantly working and stressing the same muscle groups, therefore increasing the likelihood of injury.
“We do a lot of injury prevention. That’s one reason practice takes so long,” said Windle, “It’s so that we don’t get injured from just running.”
Many coaches recommend playing multiple sports saying that being a multi-sport athlete leads to a more well-rounded athlete.
“I understand the argument of playing multiple sports but when being a one sport athlete, you get to deeply invest yourself into one thing,” said Windle, “Focusing on what I’m best at and trying to be the best I can be at the sport I love.”
This article first appeared in our December issue of our news magazine.