As Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey prepares to play pro football, he has some advice for America’s youth: Play more than one sport.
“I’m not a fan of locking in to one sport,” McCaffrey told Dan Patrick on Friday. “I just think it’s so important as a kid to venture off and do multiple things. And it’s so tough nowadays too because a lot of these baseball teams are all year-round and the only you’re going to get playing time is if you’re there all year-round so you can’t play any other sports. And to me, I look at what basketball and track and baseball did for my football career was more than anything you’re training different muscles, you’re training your mind, and just being a part of multiple teams you learn a lot of life lessons.
“I look at the lessons I learned in basketball — quickness, agility, leaping ability, hand-eye coordination — all that stuff I use in football all the time. In track, obviously, linear speed. And so just being able to do multiple things is extremely important. It’s worth it as a kid to go through that.”
McCaffrey isn’t the only one who thinks that. In his new book, The Quarterback Whisperer, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians repeatedly emphasizes the importance of playing multiple sports as a kid and avoiding specialization in only one. While that may be the only way for a marginal athlete to become good enough to start on the high school team, the truly great athletes will be able to seamlessly slide from sport to sport, developing a broad range of muscles and experiencing a wide range of competitive environments.