Tips on Coaching Dual-Sport Athletes
November has officially taken over the calendar, bringing the winter sports season along with it. For some student-athletes, the arrival of winter sports is long-awaited, as they've been working on their craft all offseason. For others, the arrival of winter sports means this will be the second sport they compete in this school year. While it sounds like a lot to handle for the typical student-athlete, it certainly isn't uncommon for athletes to play more than one sport.
Whether it's transitioning from football to basketball or wrestling, or going from volleyball to swimming or gymnastics, dual-sport athletes obviously have to be responsible and committed when participating in multiple sports. Not only do they continue to have less time for academics outside of the classroom in comparison to non student-athletes or one-sport athletes, but they also run the risk of physical burnout and stress.
Coaches who are gearing up for the upcoming winter sports season should consider these tips when handling the unique situations of dual-sport athletes:
1. Qualify the Player: Christopher Stankovich (2014) notes some important questions that coaches should ask themselves regarding dual-sport athletes, such as:
- "Is the student-athlete mature and responsible enough to handle this increased level of commitment?"
- "Does the student-athlete fully understand the complications and consequences that might be involved with this decision, especially as it applies to other potential missed opportunities and potential struggles to keep up with studies?"
- "Is the student-athlete aware of the increased chances for physical injuries and sports burnout because of playing more than one sport?"
If a coach thinks the player doesn't fully understand these risks and responsibilities, then it might be best to voice these concerns to the athlete.
2. Managing the Player's Physical Stress: Coaches are the ones who set the tone in practice and training in terms of how hard they push their athletes to perform. Bruno Pauletto, a former strength and conditioning coach at the University of Tennessee, notes that, "Coaches need to be aware of a multi-sport athlete's special situation and help to maintain his overall strength program as well as the sport specific strength program. A coach should not let his personal philosophy interfere with the athlete's training and, consequently, undermine his performance in the upcoming sport," (2016). Coaches must be careful in how they deal with players who have already undergone a physically demanding season during the Fall.
3. Managing the Player's Mental Stress: One thing that coaches don't have much control over is an athlete's life outside of the gym, track, or pool. An athletes' social life, family life, and personal life can all be affected when moving from one sport to the next, as they don't catch a break when going from the Fall to Winter season. It's important that the coach is there to help these players when dealing with mental stress, and not in the sense of giving them any sort of "special treatment." The coach should continue to act as a strong leader, mentor, and counselor for these athletes, helping and communicating with them as the coach sees needed. Managing a dual-sport athlete's mental stress effectively can ultimately lead to better performance and results from the player.
Best of luck this season and thanks for choosing Snap! Raise as your fundraising partner! Sign your Winter sports team up for a fundraiser today at snap-raise.com
(2016, November 2). Managing your multi-sport athletes. Retrieved from https://www.siprep.org/uploaded/strengthconditioning/documents/ManagingyourMulti.pdf
Stankovich, C. (2014, November 21). New student-athlete prototype: two sports in the same season. Retrieved from https://www.nfhs.org/articles/new-student-athlete-prototype-two-sports-in-the-same-season/