Learn the Fastest Routes to Becoming a Professional Athlete
So you want to fast-track your kid to one day becoming a pro athlete, huh? Before I offer my thoughts about a few of the “easier” ways to do that, I would like to first repeat a comment once told to me at a conference I was speaking at years ago when discussing the odds of making it in sports. Specifically, an audience member with a background in statistics told the crowd that kids would have an easier time becoming a brain surgeon or rocket scientist, statistically speaking, than they would becoming a pro athlete! My own research backs this claim up, as only about 5% of all high school athletes play in college, and only about 1.5% of all college athletes ever make it to the pros. Now, if you are still curious about the fastest path to the pros, I do have a few ideas that may bump these numbers up a tiny bit.
From my view there are now three ways an aspiring baseball player might bypass the competition but only if he can do one of the following really, really well:
- Left-handed pitcher. If you are a baseball fan you already know the value of a left-handed specialist, where in some cases are called upon in games to get a single batter or final out. The value of a lefty who consistently throws strikes is immeasurable in a game where most hitters swing from the right side of the plate.
- Dual-handed pitcher. Granted, there aren’t many players who can do this beyond Pat Venditte, but if you are able to throw strikes using either arm then there’s a good chance an MLB team will give you a look.
- Knuckle-ball pitcher. Pitchers like Charlie Hough, the Niekro brothers, and Tim Wakefield pitched well into their 40’s because of their ability to throw the knuckle-ball for strikes. The knuckle-ball might be the most peculiar thing in all of sports, but if you develop the pitch and have the confidence to throw it consistently — and in any game situation — then the odds of pitching in the bigs increases a ton.
While it is true that players today are bigger, faster, and stronger than ever before, there are two positions that rely less on physical characteristics and more on technical excellence:
- Kicker. Field position and scoring are just as valuable in football today as they were 100 years ago, meaning great kickers are invaluable to their teams. While kickers might not need to be the most physically gifted, they do need to have nerves of steel if they are to excel in making long FG’s in crunch situations, and herein is where they earn their jobs and make their salaries.
- Long-snapper. A second, often unnoticed position where athletes can accelerate their way to the NFL is by being an outstanding long-snapper. Often these players are drafted to do just this one, single task, but being perfect from 15 yards away for punts and 8 yards for field goals sounds a lot easier than it actually is in real life.
Sports that have a goal with a net to defend (like hockey and soccer) have one incredibly important position that usually has less competition compared to other, more glamorous positions on the field:
- Goalie. Millions of kids play sports every year, but only a small percentage of them play goalie compared to other positions on the field. Still, having less competition, relatively speaking, is only a small part of the battle — in order to make it in sports, goalies must be really, really good at stopping balls and pucks!
Again, making it as a professional athlete is one of the most difficult things to do in life, and even the routes I have described in this post are still incredibly difficult to master. The reality is that making a living as a pro athlete should never be an exclusive priority for anyone, and other, more realistic career paths should always be considered.
What professional sport routes do you consider as slightly easier than other routes?