Have you ever heard someone say that if you want to play volleyball in college, you should only be focusing on volleyball up until then? Have you also ever heard someone say that if you want to play volleyball in college, you should be playing other sports as well before then?
In my opinion, and I think a lot of head coaches, assistant coaches, strength coaches and athletic trainers would agree with me, you should be a multisport athlete up until you go to college. Coach John Cook is one of the biggest advocates for continuing to be involved in other sports, even if you are already committed to playing volleyball for the Cornhuskers.
One of the biggest reasons to remain a multisport athlete is for the different body movements and the versatile training that is received when an athlete is involved in a variety of sports. For example, if I only played volleyball, I would solely be training the muscles and movements that are involved throughout a volleyball match. If I competed in track and played basketball, as well as volleyball, then I am working on lateral movement, speed and endurance training along with other motions that I am not receiving on the volleyball court.
It also helps in the way that if volleyball is the only sport I train for, I may overuse some of the muscles that are required, which then leads to burnout or injury. If athletes have other sports that they transition into depending on the time of year, then that can help save some of those injuries and that burnout from happening.
The next reason athletes should play multiple sports is because they will experience a different team dynamic and varying coaching styles. The more teammates athletes are exposed to throughout youth sports will only help prepare them in the long run for the type of teammates they will encounter once they get to college. At the collegiate level, there are players coming from all over the world and sometimes it can be difficult to relate.
The same goes for the coaches. The more coaching kids can receive while growing up, the better they will be able to adapt to what may come with their college coaches. If you are lucky enough to be able to play in college, those coaches will be expecting the most from their athletes, so they will push their athletes mentally and physically. Because I was around so many great coaches in my younger days, I felt prepared for the “tough on you” coaching once I reached the collegiate level.
The final reason athletes should continue to play multiple sports is because each sport requires a different mental aspect. The mental game is important for all athletes, no matter what sport you are in, but each sport demands unique mental stresses. For example, competing in a track meet involves visualization and mental focus throughout the race, but it is not the same visualization and mental focus that is needed throughout a volleyball match. The athlete is on their own for the most part in a track meet, where in a volleyball match, you have to work with your teammates to make anything happen. The more your mind can be trained, the better your body will respond in those stressful, nerve-racking, game-on-the-line-type situations.
It doesn’t matter if you are just beginning your athletic journey or if you are a senior in high school committed to play in college, it is still important to remain a multi-sport athlete. Not only will it help you early in your career, but it will also have a positive effect on your body when you become an old, retired athlete like myself. I think the bottom line is that variety is always better. Competing in a variety of sports throughout an athlete’s youthful years will only help them have experience mentally and physically when they advance to the collegiate and professional levels.
So, with all of that being said, thank you mom and dad for pushing me to always be involved in sports other than volleyball, even though volleyball was my one and only passion. There were days where I wanted to give up and quit playing basketball, soccer or track, but you always know best and made me stick it out. To all the other parents out there, I hope you read this and give your children the same advice.
Lauren joined Hail Varsity in 2017 as a contributing writer covering Nebraska Volleyball. Lauren played volleyball at UCLA in 2009 and then finished her collegiate volleyball career at the University of Nebraska from 2010-2012. After college, she played professional volleyball in Switzerland and Puerto Rico before making her way back to Lincoln. Lauren considers herself a wine connoisseur and a major “foodie” and she also loves to travel the world. Lauren and her husband, Jason, married in 2018.