By Ken Reed

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is an amazing football player. He also was a very good baseball player. In fact, he played baseball and football until his junior year at Texas Tech, at which point he decided that pro football was going to be his career path.

Like Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (a first round draft choice by both the NFL and MLB), Mahomes believes being a multi-sport athlete has helped him become the football player he is today.

Mahomes, the former baseball shortstop, utilizes his baseball skills to enhance his football skills. He throws off balance with aplomb and uses different arm slots to complete throws just like a SS is trained to do.

“Think about a shortstop going behind second base and throwing to first. That is Mahomes rolling to his left and throwing to his right” says Tom House, a former MLB pitcher, pitching coach and motion analyst.

“I played shortstop my whole life,” said Mahomes in an interview for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

“I never had my feet under me. I was always making throws across my body. I have always played a lot of basketball and thrown a lot of ’no-look’ passes, and this is me using all the stuff I’ve grown up doing.”

Examples like Mahomes and Murray need to be emphasized with youth coaches, parents and athletes. There is way too much early sport specialization in this country.

Young athletes have increasingly chosen to focus on a single sport in their developmental years, often as young as eight or nine years old. (Perhaps more accurately, they’ve been strongly encouraged — some may say forced — to play only one sport by parents and coaches.)

The popular belief is that only by specializing in one sport can athletes reach their full potential, land a college athletic scholarship, and perhaps one day, make it to the Olympics or pros. However, the research differs from this belief. Multi-sport athletes are generally more well-rounded athletically and advance further in the sport they ultimately choose as their preferred sport. In addition, studies have shown that multi-sport athletes have fewer injuries and experience burnout less often.

“We feel that if you specialize before your junior or senior year in high school, you’re doing a disservice to your development as an athlete,” says House.

“I hope multi-sport athletes like Mahomes will keep youngsters from year-round baseball, or whatever, when they’re 12 or 13. The more neural pathways you can create, the better athlete you’ll be when you finally settle on your sport.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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