Variance practice helps specialized athletes get better at specific skills that is required by their sport. What this means is that a powerlifter will be the best in their sport if they practice more than just powerlifting. Powerlifters will benefit from endurance activities, Olympic lifting, and gymnastics. A basketball player will improve their free throw by practicing the thruster, the clean and jerk, and pull-ups. A lot of times in sport, it feels like you will get better if you continuously practice the skill that the sport requires, but that is not the case.
Athletes who continuously specialize from season to season burn out or become injured. This is because they are not being introduced to new stressors, so no real adaptation can happen for them to grow as an athlete. A quick way to injure yourself is to use the same muscles and joints in the same movement pattern repetitively without rest. In sport, the athletes who are the most versatile will have the longest careers, the best health, and the crossover skills to adapt to competition.
In the real world, over-specializing is not helpful. Imagine a mechanic who can only work on trucks, they are not going to get as much business as a mechanic who works on trucks, vans, SUVs, and large machinery. This is the fault of a specialist – and the mechanic who knows how to fix more will have a better quality of life, simply because they have a bigger sea to fish in. A basketball player who can make shots from the 3-point line AND the free throw line is more valuable. A powerlifter who also practices fast lifts has more midline stability AND a better metabolic rate is more valuable. A mechanic who can fix my Equinox AND my F-150 is more valuable, and person who can run a 5k AND deadlift their bodyweight will have a more functionally valuable life.
Being well rounded is a compromise for overall performance instead of being an expert with limited range. Ultimately, an athlete who is proficient in more skills than a few will have an easier time adapting to and out-perform their peers. For this reason, many sport coaches when presented with two athletes who are seemingly identical, will choose an athlete who plays multiple sports instead of just one. An athlete with a broad range of athletic experiences will have an easier time adapting to change on the field and in life.
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