Hit the Bench for a Season


The coaches play favorites. There was too much running. It just wasn’t fun anymore. These are some of the reasons I have heard for why eight girls have quit volleyball since last year. While I am among those eight girls, I have a different reason for quitting.

I do not consider playing three sports to be healthy for high school athletes.They never have a break to allow their body to recover. What about summer? In the summer, it gets worse because every coach can now work with their players at the same time. There are no KSHSAA “separation” dates in place to keep sports to one-at-a-time. For three-sport athletes, the summer, especially June, is packed with sports.

An example is senior Camille Schweizer, who plays volleyball, basketball, and softball. Mondays have weights and basketball practice in the morning and basketball games in the evening, Tuesdays have weights again, as well as softball practice in the morning and softball games that night. Wednesdays are the light day with volleyball games in the evening, followed by Thursday morning, which has weights once again, followed by both basketball and softball practice. Friday is her only day completely off, and this is her schedule for June and half of July.

Add cheer to the mix, and you also have cheer practice on Tuesday mornings from 6-7:30 and Friday mornings from 6:30-7:30.

On the guys side of things, they have workouts Monday through Thursday mornings starting with weights from 6-7, then to football until 7:30, and finally basketball from 7:30-8:30. This all adds up.

While the KSHSAA summer practice cutoff date is usually around July 15, this is only restrictive of team practices. Weights continue for the rest of the summer. This never-ending cycle of wear on athletes’ bodies never allows athletes to recover, which can result in injuries from worn out muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Now, I’m not trying to argue with the data you can find anywhere online about how “specialization” in a sport can lead to injuries. According to NCSA Head Recruiting Coach Jaimie Duffeck, “Playing multiple sports gives athletes time to heal and develop different muscle groups, tendons and ligaments.”

However, this does not take into account the fact that many sports use the same motions and muscle groups. For example, in volleyball you jump and sometimes run. In cross country, you run. In basketball, you run and jump. In softball or track, you run. In all of these sports, you run. This is constant impact from which your ankles, knees, hips and back never get a break.

Take a season off. I don’t mean sit around and do nothing, but give your body time to recover. Two sports is great but your body needs that third season to recover, regroup. When your season arrives, you’ll be full of energy, rested, and ready to give it all you’ve got.