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save the endangered athlete


 4 Reasons to Save The Endangered Athlete

The Bison once roamed North America and met the needs of an entire population of indigenous people. However, The bison merely became a creature for it’s hide and almost became extinct. Once as many as 60 million bison roamed and was limited down to only 300 total in 1900. Thankfully, the numbers have returned to over 400,000.

The multi-sport athlete is becoming extinct. We need to save the endangered athlete.

It was once revered for the many benefits multiple sports provided; fun, teamwork, creativity, self-governing, motivation, fitness, and confidence. However, lost somewhere between adolescence and puberty is the specialist, an athlete whose sole purpose is to try and excel at one sport

Seek, Kill, & Destroy.

The difference however between the bison and the multi-sport athlete is that humans could never domesticate the American Buffalo. It was just too powerful. However, we have been able to contain the multi-sport athlete. The specialist, and his or parents, live under the guise that if you play different sports; then “you’ll fall behind” or “you’ll get hurt.”  Hence, youth sport now littered with young kids only playing one sport year round.

That is why we need to save the endangered athlete.

The latter “you’ll get hurt” is a major misnomer that has been shown to have the opposite effect. Athletes that specialize have a greater rate of injury compared to non-specialized athletes.

“You’ll get left out” is the true bison in the room.

Here’s 4 reasons to play multi-sports…

1) The sport skills transfer!

87% of the draft picks in the 2015 NFL draft were multi-sport athletes. This isn’t a one-year anomaly either. The average hovers around 70%. All athletic movements transfer! Quickness, running, jumping, agility, throwing, etc. all transfer. For instance, jumping for a basketball is similar and builds the same muscles need to push off the blocks in swimming and have a good kick.

2) Multi-sport athletes have a higher sport I.Q.

They develop a feel for any game that they are playing. They are more creative and less mechanical in their approach. For instance, there are 10-year olds who look like demi-gods in the batting cage, but have no idea how to run the bases. A recent phenomenon in volleyball has occurred in which some players in college have never served a ball in competition, ever.

3) Burnout becomes less frequent in multi-sport athletes.

How long do you think going to 6 showcase events and traveling each weekend in the summer to compete remains fun? Trust the process, once every single tournament becomes a must do, the fewer tournaments actually are. Maintain the passion and fun by allowing breaks and time-off.

4) Multi-sport athletes learn to compete.

Each sport is different and requires different levels of focus and resiliency. So, in order to become mentally tough, they need to be in different sport situations that test their resilience and ability to comeback. If they learn to compete early on, that skill will transfer into other areas as well. We can compete in anything…

  • Marcelo Chierighini was SEC swimmer of the year at Auburn, a national champion and Olympian; he didn’t start swimming until age 16.
  • Maverik McNealy, golfer at Stanford University, the top ranked amateur golfer in the United States, played hockey and soccer as well as golf into his senior year at high-school. The balance, stability, and core strength required in hockey transferred into golf.
  • Future hall of Famer, Steve Nash, played soccer, rugby, and basketball in high school.

Lastly, the single sport specialist isn’t the worst culprit. It’s the multi-single sport specialist! The new wave of overlapping specialized sports, where one team and league overlaps one another. Where is the time to play unorganized games? That’s how you save the endangered athlete.


Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent books on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness   

A young kung fu student travels to meet a renowned sensei… The student tells the master that he wants to train under him to become a powerful samurai and asked “how long it would take”?

The master tells him it will take 10 years of training. Unsatisfied, the student says that he will work harder than any student, to which the master replies, that it will take 20 years now. Again unsatisfied, the student says he will train harder day and night. This time the master replies, now it would take 30 years.

The confused student asks the master why it will take longer the harder he works. The sensei responds, “The answer is clear, when one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way.”Are you framing your work ONLY in terms of the end goal? When we do this, we lose part of that focus we need to accomplish our goals.

Understanding the process and experiencing the journey it takes to reach a goal, is what helps us stay committed to our work. Don’t allow the destination to become more important than the journey.

About the Author: Will Drumright is an Associate of DRB. He works with athletes of all ages, especially good one’s. He can be reached at  wcdrumright@gmail.com or twitter  @wcdrummy15 
  1. Perfectionist

I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree and moved to Crested Butte, Colorado to be a ski-bum for one season. Well, the employment opportunities were not in high demand, so I was forced to work construction. I sucked at it. I became the laborer of the group, because I could hardly nail two pieces of wood together.

To this day, I “hate” being bad at anything and can’t accept the fact that I am not good at everything.

     2.  All or Nothing thinking:

My mentality: win or lose, make the shot or miss it, do a good job or a poor job. This type of stinking thinking has gotten me into trouble. It means the good times are good, but the bad times are bad, and there are few times of being in the middle.

The problem is that when I think this way; I allow no room for making mistakes or learning the lesson. However, since we all are going to lose more often than we will win, a big part of mental toughness is learning how to deal with loss and failure.

 3.    Negativity:

Coach John Calipari said once that he can bring the intensity to practice 3 out of 5 days, but he needs his players and other coaches to bring the enthusiasm the other days.  I am the same way. One of the things that I teach is the power of attitude and belief, and I still struggle with it. I can sometimes catch myself when driving to negative town, but it is still one place that I hate to go, since it serves little purpose.

4.    Tunnel vision:

Everyone’s greatest strength is also his or her greatest weakness. Mine happens to be my obsession with mental toughness, sport psychology, and improvement.  If I set a particular goal, I will achieve it, period. However, there is a level of selfishness with this pursuit. For example, I’ve written four books on Mental Toughness, ran 2 marathons, and had a hole-in-one.  So, other pursuits in my life have to drop off in order for me to remain steadfast on the people and things that are really important.  Although, the tunnel vision is productive in the short-term, balance is better.

 5.    My unbelief:

There is a verse in the bible, Mark 9:24. It’s the verse I sign all of my books with. It is a man talking to Jesus, who says “lord I believe, help my unbelief.” This sums me up. I believe in my faith and salvation and know that things happen for a reason and that things also work out.

However, when I get stressed or fearful, it means I am not practicing my belief. The most important mental skill is confidence, and faith is all about trust. When I don’t trust it, I don’t believe.

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

There are no guarantees in life. All we have are opportunities.

Vince Frank at the Cru Golf outing at Stonewall Orchards took advantage of his opportunity.  The par-3 9th hole, held the hole-in one contest for $10,000. However, one had to pay $10 to be eligible.  He was the only one in his group to donate the money, because he said “it was for a good cause.”

Vince being the seventy year old golfer did not even see the ball roll in the hole on the 168 yard shot, but his partners sure did and they let him hear it. The odds of Vince making the hole in one were not very good, but we all can learn from this event.

We should focus on what’s possible, not what’s probable.  If we pay attention to the probability, it can severely dampen the number of opportunities we take. In many ways, we regret what we DO NOT DO, rather than doing something and it not turning out the way we want. If we at least do something, then we are giving ourselves a shot. Go ahead, pay the $10.

Imagine for a second that Vince DID NOT pay his $10. He would have had a more difficult time moving on from NOT winning, than making his hole in one.

Read How to make a hole-in-one. 

Lastly, he even gave a bit of credit to me because he said my talk at the beginning of the event made him NOT  think about the shot, even if it was the only one he did it for all day…Maybe I should send him an invoice? Nah, that’s why they brought me to speak…

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis.  Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness   

First, it’s not the QB, a kicker, or even a lacrosse goalie. The toughest position is not only stressful and demands thick skin, but it is completely thankless; it’s the referee. Think about it, the best officials are invisible, because they only warrant consideration when something bad has happened. Nonetheless, the best games possess a flow, fairness, and game management only available through the toughest position on the field.

In addition, we all have to be officials at certain points on our own team or career. Interviewing the toughest of toughest positions on the field (SEC football officials) has revealed three keys for all of us to follow:

1)   Get excited, not nervous-

Prior to a game, referees get the same type of feelings and thoughts as the players. The best get excited rather than nervous and the difference rests in how they perceive the situation. They must view games as “we get to call a good game,” rather than “I hope I don’t mess up a call.” It’s the same in our own lives, when we get excited; we view things as challenges (something we get to do) rather than threats (something bad can happen).

2)   Communicate-

Since the game has changed in 20 years from big guys or fast guys, to big and fast guys, there are more “gut” or “marginal” calls on the field.

The head official is only one addressing the crowd at the game, so he must administer the call not only correctly, but also timely. When you see the referees gather together, it may even come down to the head official’s decision to make the call.

3)   Re-focus-

There are approximately 170-180 plays in a game and referees never call a perfect game. The officials focus on their preparation, rely on their mantra of “ready, every play”, and the pre-snap routine. Every official has a different role on the field, so each person goes through a specific mental checklist that helps them focus.

However, mistakes still happen. Thus, some of the referees actually have a physical re-focus cue to help them on the most important play; the next play. When something goes poorly in your own life, what is your re-focus cue?

 Dr. Rob Bell is the author of Mental Toughness Training for Golf, an AASP certified Sport Psychology consultant, and caddy on tour. He consults with athletes, coaches, and teams at all levels helping build and enhance their own mental toughness. His website is www.drrobbell.com and you can find him on Twitter @drrobbell