This Post Written By Rochester Rattlers Attacker And LeagueApps Director of Lacrosse Ned Crotty
“Play multiple sports.” Something almost all youth athletes are told, often times directly from college coaches themselves, and yet most players and parents today ignore the advice. Coaches aren’t just wasting their breath—the advice is based on a common thread among almost all great lacrosse players.
In short, playing multiple sports makes you a better athlete, and ultimately a better lacrosse player. But it’s more than that. Whatever the sport is you’re choosing to play, care about it, work really hard at it, and don’t look at it as a secondary sport.
The key is not trying to do it all at once. These days, athletes play other sports to stay in shape for lacrosse, but if you’re not focused on the sport at hand, are you really going to get better? Is it going to make you a better athlete?
One of the great things about lacrosse is that there are so many similarities with other sports – basketball, football, soccer, hockey, etc. As a professional athlete, coach, and someone with several years of experience in the sports industry, I’ve often attributed my success in lacrosse to my years playing hockey. In hockey, you have to constantly play with your head up, make quick decisions and develop soft hands – all critical skills to my development as an athlete, and I wouldn’t have become the versatile player I am today without those experiences.
Are college coaches speaking out of both sides of their mouth when they say this? Arguably, yes. Coaches say that they want multi-sport athletes, yet they’re recruiting at events year round, causing players and parents to anxiously assume that they’re going to miss out on that one opportunity to be noticed if they skip a recruiting event or two.
Ironically, that couldn’t be further from the truth. And I’ve heard this first hand from coaches. In fact, you’d be surprised how many coaches like getting an email from a player saying they’re unable to make a recruiting event because they have a HS football game. It’s actually a good sign about a player, and shows commitment.
Another pro tip: In that same email, attach a highlight of your football season up to that point. While it may feel strange, coaches love watching their recruits play other sports.ften times, it can give them a better idea of the player’s athleticism and instincts.
There’s a saying that “you recruit what you can’t teach,” and the truth is you can’t teach athletic instincts. Back when I was going through the recruiting process, schools that were recruiting me for lacrosse used to come and watch me play hockey. I remember one coach in particular telling me he liked watching the recruits who played hockey because he could quickly figure out whether or not they were tough. “You can’t hide in the boards” he said.
My love for lacrosse is undeniable – but I think it’s important for young lacrosse players to know the consequences of limiting their athletics to only one sport. If lacrosse is your only focus, you’re missing out on the chance to become the best player that you can be.
Adding another sport to the mix will not only make you a better athlete and lacrosse player, it will also help you appreciate the game even more. It’s healthy to take a step away from the game for a little bit, similar to how it’s important for adults to take vacations away from their jobs. If anything, it will allow you to miss the sport and have more appreciation for your next time on the field holding a stick.
And remember, college lacrosse coaches get excited about well-rounded athletes. They would even tell you to engage in different sports while you can, because come college enrollment time, they’ll want lacrosse to be your sole focus.