MLB Hall of Famer Winfield calls specialization ‘recipe for burnout’
Winfield, who played the majority of his career with the San Diego Padres and New York Yankees, recently sat down with Athlon Sports to discuss his playing career from college to the pros, where he was a 12-time All-Star. When asked what advice he would offer to young athletes, he took the opportunity to speak out against specialization.“The evolution of sports and the culture of America now, everybody — from the kids, the families, the schools, all these coaches and trainers — everybody wants to funnel a kid into one sport,” Winfield told Athlon Sports. “I can say that it is a recipe for burning a kid out and maybe not exposing a kid to what they’re going to be best at or good at, because they’ve never tried it. And then if you play one sport, you sometimes overwork the muscles just for that one sport.
“I just see too many people, not only they’ve never played a sport for fun, they never played in the backyard, they never played it where everything wasn’t on the line and people are pushing them and it’s trained, practiced. And then the kid never had fun and they always come back, ‘Dad, I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m burned out.’ They say, ‘Man, why didn’t they tell me that three years ago, I could have saved my $20,000 of travel.’ So, multiple sports are the best way. Grooming them and funneling them into one sport is not good.”
Winfield is among many former and current players and coaches who have warned young athletes about specialization. Joe Maddon, J.J. Watt, Giancarlo Stanton and John Smoltz are just a few who have spoken publicly about the issue. Playing multiple sports not only helps to prevent overuse injuries, but it also makes athletes more attractive to college recruiters.
Click here to read the full Winfield interview at Athlon Sports.