SportsEvents Magazine

AUG 2016

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www.sportseventsmagazine.com August 2016 21 be one of the first ones done and my lateral movement speed had increased tenfold." Oliver sees many overuse injuries in her sport. "I know a lot of girls that have no acute injury in their shoulders but huge amounts of wear and tear on them," Oliver said. "Shoulders and ankles seem to go quickly because we play so much but never really develop the other muscles through other exercise." Oliver's softball career will continue next year at Wellesley College in Boston, playing as a non-scholarship NCAA Division III athlete. She managed to buck the odds that are stacked mightily against youth athletes continuing to play sports in college. What Are The Odds? The NCAA has numerous studies on the subject of advancing to play college sports and professional sports. The numbers are staggering. Out of 8 million high school athletes, about 460,000 will play in college, about six percent. Again, these numbers are based on kids who played sports in high school and don't include the masses who quit long before when others begin specializing. That six percent includes all NCAA college athletes. The percentage of that six percent that earns scholarships is lower. For example, in softball, 5.4 percent of high school athletes play in college, but only 3.3 percent play in Division I and Division II, in which athletic scholarships are available. Oliver said players talk about the pressures from parents to get scholarships. "Yeah, a lot of girls I play with get burned out ...," Oliver said. "I think that parent pressure has a lot to do with it because no matter how much you love the game, that constant pressure at home can overpower that." NCAA numbers show a correlation between specialization and college participation. In most female sports, more than 40 percent of college athletes specialized by age 12 with gymnastics leading the way. More than 88 percent of college gymnasts specialized by age 12. In most male sports, more than 30 percent specialized by age 12 with soccer leading the way as 63 percent specialized by then. Specialized athletes are not necessarily what college coaches look for in recruits. Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, who has coached three national championship teams since 2006, sparked interest in the topic and a Twitter flurry when a study showed that 42 of his 47 recruits since 2013 were multi-sport athletes. Tracking Football reported that 85 percent of the 2014 recruits to football powerhouses Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame were multi-sport athletes. Youth Sports Mulligan In retrospect, many college athletes surveyed said they believe they played too many games in their sport before entering college. More than 45 percent of men playing baseball, basketball, football and soccer said that, while more than 40 percent of women playing basketball and tennis felt that way. The NCAA also reports that, depending on the sport, as much as 43 percent of college athletes now say they wish they would have had the opportunity to sample other sports while growing up. Men competing in baseball, basketball and football have more than 35 percent who wished they tried in other sports, while women competing in basketball and tennis have more than 24 percent who say they wished they would have tried other sports. "Tennis was really interesting to me because I had only ever played softball, which is entirely a team sport whereas singles tennis was individual," Oliver said. "It was important to me because it was up to me to dictate how the match went instead of relying on a team behind me. It taught me a lot about myself and dealing with failure in a non-self-critical way." n Special Feature: SPECIALIZATION IN YOUTH SPORTS Estimated Probability Of Competing In Professional Athletics Keeping Score *Percent NCAA to Major Pro figures are based on the number of draft picks made in the NFL, NBA, WNBA, MLB, NHL and MLS drafts only. Men's Sports Div. I Div. II Div. III Basketball 49% 39% 35% Tennis 66% 56% 25% Golf 35% 26% 23% Baseball 32% 44% 37% Lacrosse 12% 32% 19% Women's Sports Div. I Div. II Div. III Basketball 55% 43% 37% Tennis 72% 57% 28% Golf 27% 22% 16% Trends in sport specialization by age 12 appear to be similar across all divisions. These sports are the exceptions: Source: www.ncaa.org

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