Downside of Sport-Specialization

Kobe Bryant

Bryant famously grew up in Italy and supported AC Milan as a youth (he has since adopted FC Barcelona as an adult). Digging into the impact of the sport on his life, Bryant explains why playing soccer as a youth helped him dominate the sport of basketball for two decades in rather technical detail. “Most of the time, American basketball is only taught in twos: 1-2, pick and roll, or give and go, or something like that,” Bryant explains. “In playing soccer growing up, you really see the game in a combination of threes, sometimes fours—and how you play within triangles.” Bryant also gave the example of being aware of the “backside” and referenced switching the ball to the opposite side of the field to drive home the point that soccer provided him an advantage by increasing his awareness of his surroundings. “You see things in multiple combinations,” Bryant continued. “And growing up playing (soccer), my eye and my brain became accustomed to seeing those combinations in threes and fours versus one and two.”

Abby Wambach

Wambach believes that the success of her time in soccer would not have been possible without her exploits on the hardwood in her youth. "Playing basketball had a significant impact on the way I play the game of soccer," Wambach said. "I am a taller player in soccer. In basketball I was a power forward and I would go up and rebound the ball. So learning the timing of your jump, learning the trajectory of the ball coming off the rim. All those things play a massive role."

Pete Carroll

Pete Carroll, former USC and now Seattle Seahawks Football coach, says The first questions I’ll ask about a kid are, ‘What other sports does he play? What does he do? What are his positions? Is he a big hitter in baseball? Is he a pitcher? Does he play hoops?’ All of those things are important to me. I hate that kids don’t play three sports in high school. I think that they should play year-round and get every bit of it that they can through that experience. I really, really don’t favor kids having to specialize in one sport. Even [at USC], I was the biggest proponent for two-sport athletes on the college level. I want guys that are so special athletically, and so competitive, that they can compete in more than one sport.”

Athletic Development in the Pasadena area