Specialization in sports — one sport vs. three sport athletes


Kate Ryan, Sports Reporter

Molly Donovan was a committed, determined basketball and softball player focused on becoming the most skilled she could possibly be in both. Although Molly once had a great passion for basketball, things change and along with many other athletes, she has now completely terminated her basketball career to put all her athletic training into her favorite sport: softball.

“I felt that if I played basketball that I wouldn’t be as focused on softball; I wouldn’t be putting in enough time,” Molly said.

Her main goal was always to be as successful as she could be in whatever she was doing, and her choice to specialize in softball was the first step to achieving that goal. Molly chose to stop playing basketball when she brought her softball commitment to the next level. She joined a higher intensity travel team with more practices and a more time-consuming schedule.

“I was really focused on more practicing and putting in more hours with softball,” Molly said.

As a single sport athlete, Molly has found it much easier to improve her game in softball. With more time on her hands to devote to the field, she is putting in extra hours on her own not just at practice.

“I have a hitting net set up in my basement and I try to go down there every day. I am also lifting a lot more and I’m really just trying to be the best I can to help out my team. I want to feel like I am playing to the best of my ability.”

Even with all of her time now occupied by softball year round, her love and passion for the game has not wavered. Although repeating the same grueling practice and competition schedule over and over again can be extremely tiring, Molly would not change anything at all.

“In the end, I love softball so much and I couldn’t imagine not playing or playing less than I do because it has been part of my lifestyle since I was ten years old,” Molly said.

Along with her love for the game she has been motivated even more by having the privilege to represent her school doing what she enjoys the most.

“Playing for the school has really enhanced my love for softball and being out there wearing green and white is so awesome,” Molly said.

As Molly continues to train harder for softball, she can see that her efforts to improve are working. Specializing in one sport has allowed her to take off in her skill level and play up to her full potential all the time.

Although in Molly’s case, specialization has helped her improve all around. FHC’s athletic director, Clark Udell, points out the benefits of playing multiple sports for young students.

“Physically, the more variety of activities you are doing the less likely you are to have overuse injuries,” Udell said.

To go hand in hand with the physical aspects, there are also important emotional lessons to be learned and taken away from being a part of multiple teams and activities.

“It helps keep a good balance in our lives. It makes it easier to put into perspective that athletics are something you do, but it doesn’t define who you are. It can really help high school athletes alleviate a lot of the pressure they feel.”

As the years go by the number of athletes playing multiple sports has seemed to decline significantly. There may be varying opinions on which approach is more favorable, but each athlete is unique and every situation comes with its own individual set of factors and we can only hope that all athletes can make the right choice for themselves.

“I would certainly hope to see more and more kids playing multiple sports,” Udell said.