Athletic directors and coaches should work together to allow athletes to play multiple sports

By Stephen Spiewak | Posted 3/17/2018

Many high school football coaches and athletic directors recognize the value of athletes playing multiple sports.

From diverse motor skill development to necessary breaks from certain physical patterns, and interaction with a different coaching staff and group of players, competing in different sports can enhance a high school athlete’s career in many ways.

None of that's possible if the coaches of the respective teams don't communicate with each other.

RELATED CONTENTA different way for football coaches to look at work-life balance

Joe Eisenmann, former USA Football director of high performance and education, said high school athletic directors must take a more holistic approach to athlete development. He suggests one coach knows what the other expects from players. Otherwise, overtraining can become a threat to athlete development.

“One thing I have a big concern about is the cumulative training load,” Eisenmann said.

Eisenmann described scenarios where an offseason football player might lift weights in the morning and practice with the basketball team in the afternoon. The basketball coach, unaware of the player’s football workouts, might have the player (and his teammates) execute a different lifting regimen.

“It’s a concern,” Eisenmann said. “The miscommunication among coaches, even in the same building.”

That reality makes it difficult for athletes to get proper rest. It’s up to the AD to make sure it doesn’t happen.

RELATED CONTENTHow to build a high school or middle school football coaching staff

“The athletic director is the director — the leader — of the athletic program in that building,” Eisenmann said. “They should be guiding this process. Obviously, a sound athletic program at a high school should have a comprehensive strength and conditioning program.”

Eisenmann said football coaches usually initiate the dialogue on an athlete strength program, because they’re concerned athletes who are playing other sports might not execute their carefully constructed offseason conditioning plan.

Breakdown of the individual sport training silos, and a shift to a more comprehensive approach to athlete performance across all sports, can begin with something as simple as dynamic warmups.

Eisenmann said to get other coaches to buy into this sort of department-wide approach, it's important to demonstrate the value of dynamic warmups, then build from there and explore areas such as acceleration, jumping and landing, abilities that'll benefit athletes across sports.

RELATED CONTENTLet high school football coaches do what they do best

In this environment, the football coach can have more confidence that his athlete's physical development will continue while playing a different sport.

“As a football coach, when we pass those kids off to a basketball coach or the baseball coach, you at least now know they're going to do good dynamic warmup, and we’re getting some training of attributes that carry over to football,” he said.

Being a multi-sport athlete is beneficial, but athletic directors should have steps in place to ensure athletes don't overtrain, and that coaches work together to create optimal conditions for them to flourish.

This is an updated version of a blog that originally published April 27, 2017.