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Thread: Is the female multi-sport HS athlete a thing of the past?

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    Learning everyday NBECoach's Avatar
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    Default Is the female multi-sport HS athlete a thing of the past?

    In 2 weeks we are due to have our HS tryouts for softball. Over the past 5 years the number of softball players has diminished from low 40's (3 teams) down to mid to high 20's (2 teams). It used to be the girls who played fall (swim/track) or winter sports (basketball/volleyball) transitioned into softball. That is no longer the case. Basketball is particularly the sport of choice as some of the best athletes who in past years played softball immediately start practicing with AAU teams for spring/summer basketball tournaments as they see that as the path to a scholarship. Some go into soccer but their numbers are down also.

    I understand that some kids need to pay more attention to schoolwork and so they only choose 1 sport. It also may be that softball which is a spring sport here is at the end of the school year and by this time they have had enough of practice for whatever else they had participated.

    Since 2005 the program has been successful with numerous conference championships, regional and sectional victories, a state championship appearance in 5 years ago and a state championship 10 years ago. But following 2014 the numbers started to go down.

    Yes I have looked inward to see if I am somehow contributing to this. Each summer I make it a point to go watch local tournaments of the HS players TB teams so they know we care about their progress and make sure I talk to the parents just to keep communication open so I don't think coaching is an issue and no parent has broached the subject even though I give them every opening.

    With the TB HC's request, I have even begun working with two 10u teams when I can find the time to help keep kids into softball. Yet the HS numbers go down and the talent level of those who try out has slipped also.

    Any suggestions on how I can make softball more relevant are welcome.


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    Certified softball maniac BT3100's Avatar
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    I'm afraid with the pressure for year round commitment to one sport and the need to do it if the kid wants to succeed at achieving a scholarship the days of multisport athlete are over. It's so funny, when DD began to get more serious about softball coaches would say you need to play more than one sport.. then they would also say you need to take all of the AP classes that you can and keep your grades up there.. Then they would say you need to pitch 4 days a week.. Then they would say you need to workout 3 times per week. Then they would say you need to give 100% every day if you want to be successful, if you not someone else is.
    Then they would ask "wait, you only play softball". Then we said "yea sorry she needs to go to the bathroom every once in a while

    You bring up a great point but with the current climate of all travel sports its nearly impossible
    You wanna know the difference between good players and great players? Good players look at 3-0 strikes, great players punish 3-0 strikes

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    I can talk softball all day Vertigo's Avatar
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    My dd is a three sport athlete but is only serious about softball to compete at the travel level. It’s doable for her because her travel ball team only practices on the weekends during the off-season; plus they are extremely understanding if she has a rare school basketball game on a weekend. So far it’s worked out for her. I do understand it’s not typical anymore though. Her other sports (basketball and tennis) act as her fitness training for softball. Lots of running, endurance, and quick stops/starts involved in both. Lots of arm strength developed through swinging the racket, dribbling, and shooting. It saves us lots of time with having to do a separate workout routine anymore, which is what she used to do.

    Lacrosse has been a big pull away from softball in my area.

    Wish I had an answer for you.....
    Last edited by Vertigo; 02-25-2019 at 11:26 PM.

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    I can talk softball all day YoungBuck's Avatar
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    You bring up a great question. I don't think there is one magic answer. I believe the schools (particularly the administrators) can play a large role in keeping the numbers up in extracurricular activities. At some schools administrators don't make it a priority or don't see it as 'they're job.' From my understanding athletics is one of the most cost effective ways to get to promote what a great school you have in your community.

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    Clueless.. pattar's Avatar
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    The cliff notes version of what I posted below is that there no more seasons in sports and for all but the most talented kids, if you want to be competitive enough to play HS (at most HS at least)
    in more than one skill driven sport (e.g. basketball, softball, tennis perhaps
    volleyball) you are going to have put a lot of work in on your own time in a non-organized setting on the sport which you have deemed to be secondary. Kids have lots of things to do nowadays
    besides spend their summer mornings hitting/fielding/shooting baskets on their own. Most kids don't want to just play a sport to just sit on the bench..

    For basketball and softball/baseball, unless you are an extremely talented athlete, it is going to be hard to really excel at both sports as travel ball for both of these are in the summer. It doesn't mean
    you cannot play both at the HS level but the days of seeing an athlete being all-state (or even all-conference) in these two sports are probably over for all but the 4 sigma type athletes.
    For every kid playing these two sports, there are 10 kids just concentrating on one of them. So if your primary sport is softball, and that is the sport you are playing in the summer, there are 10 kids who are just playing AAU basketball.

    That said, if you love both sports and want to maximize your potential in both, in lieu of finding an AAU basketball coach who is understanding of
    your priorities (e.g. basketball comes second in the summer), I would play travel softball in the summer and just work your
    butt off working on your basketball skills. Basketball is a sport where you can improve a lot just taking 500-1000 jump shots a day along with working on your ball handling skills. All of this can be done
    on your own. This is the route I am taking with my DD right now. She plays TB softball and rec basketball. Maybe as she gets older, if she still decides to make softball her primary sport, we will
    be able to find an understanding AAU coach who will work around her softball schedule in the summer (with the understanding that her playing time will likely suffer..which would be fine).
    If not, or maybe either way, then jump shots in the driveway until your hands hurt

    In terms of other sports, for males, football/baseball is a different story because football, for the most part, is driven more by athleticism/strength and not so much about skills with the exception being QB.
    Get in the weight room in the summer and you are good. Same thing with track, athleticism driven vs skill-driven for the most part.

    I would say volleyball would fall somewhere between softball/basketball and football/track in terms of the amount of skill development necessary to be good. Now this was 25 years ago, and things may
    have changed some, but my sister didn't start playing volleyball until 8th grade, up to that point she only played basketball and softball, and ended being all-state in volleyball in HS twice and played D1 in college. That said she was a middle hitter (I think that is what they called it ) so maybe there is less skill necessary at that position.
    Last edited by pattar; 02-26-2019 at 10:21 AM.

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    Certified softball maniac marriard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NBECoach View Post
    In 2 weeks we are due to have our HS tryouts for softball. Over the past 5 years the number of softball players has diminished from low 40's (3 teams) down to mid to high 20's (2 teams). It used to be the girls who played fall (swim/track) or winter sports (basketball/volleyball) transitioned into softball. That is no longer the case. Basketball is particularly the sport of choice as some of the best athletes who in past years played softball immediately start practicing with AAU teams for spring/summer basketball tournaments as they see that as the path to a scholarship. Some go into soccer but their numbers are down also.

    I understand that some kids need to pay more attention to schoolwork and so they only choose 1 sport. It also may be that softball which is a spring sport here is at the end of the school year and by this time they have had enough of practice for whatever else they had participated.

    Since 2005 the program has been successful with numerous conference championships, regional and sectional victories, a state championship appearance in 5 years ago and a state championship 10 years ago. But following 2014 the numbers started to go down.

    Yes I have looked inward to see if I am somehow contributing to this. Each summer I make it a point to go watch local tournaments of the HS players TB teams so they know we care about their progress and make sure I talk to the parents just to keep communication open so I don't think coaching is an issue and no parent has broached the subject even though I give them every opening.

    With the TB HC's request, I have even begun working with two 10u teams when I can find the time to help keep kids into softball. Yet the HS numbers go down and the talent level of those who try out has slipped also.

    Any suggestions on how I can make softball more relevant are welcome.
    Honestly - if you are long term looking to get numbers up you need to get down into the weeds - which means dealing with the rec league and getting new players into softball. Otherwise you are just dealing with families/players who have already made a travel ball level of commitment. They are mostly going to either continue to commit at this or a greater level or the player will quit.

    It isn't travel ball necessarily that is the problem - numbers in travel are higher than they have ever been. This has however caused a major problem because there is no pure rec-season anymore. The problem is that because of this, rec leagues are suffering. That makes it harder for girls to enter the sport and removes the opportunity for girls to play at a level less than travel as they get towards high school age or to even start at an older age.

    10 years ago when my DD started playing the softball year looked like this - this is Florida:
    - Jan-early May: Rec and HS season. Very little - if any - travel - maybe a scrimmage or two on a Sunday. Most 8U-14U players played in the rec league because there was no other softball being played. Rec includes a 18U division for girls who didn't make HS or didn't want to play HS
    - mid-April: Local travel tournaments started as rec winds down
    - Late-April-August: One - maybe two - reasonably local travel tournaments every weekend, 1-2 ASA tournaments for the 'A' teams, couple of showcases
    - Mid-August-Sept: Pretty much dead time
    - Sept-Nov: Smaller rec season, Fall travel (which was less intense)
    - Dec: Final couple of travel tournaments leading into Holidays

    This Year:
    - Jan-Dec: Multiple weekly local travel tournament, bi-weekly PGF events, ASA/USA Softball still puts on the occasional qualifier (but no one relevant cares all that much)
    - Jan-April: Rec exists but numbers are down as all the 'serious' players are in travel already which also dramatically effects the quality of play. There is no 18u division.
    - April-Dec: Showcases every week -sometimes multiple every weekend, camps on off weekends, and so on.

    Not sure there is an off-season. Travel has replaced a lot of rec - however it is a much bigger commitment for a new player so makes it harder for lots of new players to enter the sport. There is a culture by 14U that you are either serious or not. If you are not, you don't play anymore. More girls quit because travel is a BIG commitment - all weekend 2-3x a month.

    The other issue of course is that the sport is transitional. Once a kid goes through a level, the family generally commits to the next level. So once they go to travel now, they leave rec behind. Having a separate season meant all the serious travel coaches/parents also were involved in rec as well for longer. Who runs rec when the dedicated people have gone? A lot of time no one.

    And so on... I could go on the soapbox for hours.
    Last edited by marriard; 02-26-2019 at 10:19 AM.
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    Certified softball maniac BT3100's Avatar
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    This is a great thread. DD and I have been working one hour a week with rec kids in our area just helping with sound pitching foundation work. Kids age ranges from 9 to 15. In just about all cases the parents drop them off and show up right at pick up time. Building an athlete takes parental involvement. Our rec league suffered over the last few years as the talent would leave the area when they felt they weren't challenged. We have a large rec league and maybe out of the 5-6 teams at 12-14u we have 1-2 pitchers who can actually pitch. Looking at the 8-9 year olds and being honest it will take probably 4-5 years before they can rebuild this league and they are facing competition from other sports. I agree with the above that it starts early on.
    You wanna know the difference between good players and great players? Good players look at 3-0 strikes, great players punish 3-0 strikes

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    Quote Originally Posted by pattar View Post
    For basketball and softball/baseball, unless you are an extremely talented athlete, it is going to be hard to really excel at both sports as travel ball for both of these are in the summer. It doesn't mean
    you cannot play both at the HS level but the days of seeing an athlete being all-state (or even all-conference) in these two sports are probably over for all but the 4 sigma type athletes.
    For every kid playing these two sports, there are 10 kids just concentrating on one of them. So if your primary sport is softball, and that is the sport you are playing in the summer, there are 10 kids who are just playing AAU basketball.

    That said, if you love both sports and want to maximize your potential in both, in lieu of finding an AAU basketball coach who is understanding of
    your priorities (e.g. basketball comes second in the summer), I would play travel softball in the summer and just work your
    butt off working on your basketball skills. Basketball is a sport where you can improve a lot just taking 500-1000 jump shots a day along with working on your ball handling skills. All of this can be done
    on your own. This is the route I am taking with my DD right now. She plays TB softball and rec basketball. Maybe as she gets older, if she still decides to make softball her primary sport, we will
    be able to find an understanding AAU coach who will work around her softball schedule in the summer (with the understanding that her playing time will likely suffer..which would be fine).
    If not then jump shots in the driveway until your hands hurt
    This is playing out in real time at my house...twin DDs, now Juniors in HS whose primary sport is Fastpitch (primary P & C) playing essentially year round. Basketball season for HS and they are now in postseason playoffs with the team shooting for their 3rd straight State Championship. This year several of the hoops players had obviously spent most of their time since last year working on Basketball and the effort shows. Things really started changing when my girls hit HS and the TravelBall schedule got more intense....they loved playing Lacrosse as well as Volleyball but the conflicts became too great. This BB season both girls have told me they wished they had spent more time shooting and working on their handles over the summer/fall so they would have been more "tuned up" when the season began. Technically they have a season "available" in HS to participate in another sport and of course it gets discussed a lot (think, track, tennis or golf). They'd love to earn another Varsity letter in a different sport but given the realities of their Travel, practices, AP & Honors classes and college campus visits it would be difficult.

    We've noticed the drop in athletic participation (across most sports) at our HS. I believe it's partially due to the disparity in skill levels between the single sport, club/travel athlete and the Rec level kid that just wants to learn how to play the basic game. Some kids just feel they don't have a chance to compete for a spot on the team. This is where an understanding coach and a supportive school environment is so critical. Some schools have a very inclusive culture and student/fan support of every team is obvious, at others it's like each sports team is a clique unto itself and the rest of the school has no idea what they do, when they do it or how they are doing at it! I'm not advocating participation trophies but let the less gifted/non-starters get more playing time.

    The OP brings up a great question and everyone has brought up some very solid and relevant points. There is no one-size fits all answer for this, hopefully the path each kid follows gives them what they need in the long run.

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    I can talk softball all day uncdrew's Avatar
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    It's the parents, right?

    Parents want their kid to be the best. Parents want to get a full ride.

    Now we all know the girls who simply love softball and only want to do softball. Girls who tried other sports and didn't like them or do so well. I have one of those. But I also see a lot of girls who play only softball but don't seem to love it.

    I say that it's the parents partly tongue-in-cheek, but if we encouraged our girls to play multiple sports they would, right? My kids take my recommendations all the time. I can sway them in many ways. I wonder if the parents were out of the equation what our kids would do. I could easily see them wanting to play multiple sports more than they do now.

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    Checking out the clubhouse codeman9's Avatar
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    There is a lot of research and thinking going into this topic right now. Really anything you find at this site: admkids.com

    Here is a sampling of some articles that Iíve enjoyed:

    https://blog.voltathletics.com/home/...on-and-history

    https://learntocoachbasketball.com/el...er-development

    This one is a little more blunt:
    https://blog.shakebot.co/2018/08/18/...-athlete-suck/

    https://teachlikeachampion.com/blog/c...-win-examples/

    https://athleticlab.com/early-sampli...haran-gopalan/



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