Cross-Over Sports: Tennis and Basketball
November 28, 2011: Taking recruiting out of the equation, high school team’s talent levels seem to go in cycles. A good class can set the trend for multi-years of success, but at some point the talent pool will cycle downward until the next outstanding class comes around.
Those high school coaches that are able to avoid this rollercoaster ride do so by incorporating players from other sports during those downward trends. Body types and sport demands, like bulk versus length and explosiveness as compared with endurance make the transition from one sport to another generally very difficult.
For example, football players may take weeks to get into basketball shape and get their muscles stretched out from the bulk required on the gridiron.
However, by looking for similar sport traits an outstanding athlete may make the transition easier than you might think. Why not bring out a basketball player that can seemingly run all day and have him run an 880 or mile for the track team.
We have all heard of a soccer player becoming the placekicker for the football team. From my own personal experience, I believe the best crossover sports are basketball and tennis. Because of similar body types, good agility/foot speed and eye-hand coordination, the transition from tennis to basketball can usually be made much smoother.
Way back when I was in high school, we played Fall-tennis. Because of the physical conditioning demands of tennis, as well as the mental discipline, I always knew I would be in great shape for basketball - come the Winter months.
That is why now as a high school tennis coach I try to keep up with the middle and high school basketball teams to scout for that "lanky lefty" that could possible fill a roster spot. How a basketball player reacts both in anticipation and first step foot speed are great assets that can carry over to the tennis court.
"Seeing the court" is another valuable quality whether creating a scoring opportunity in basketball by hitting a teammate with a pass or creating a point on the tennis court by moving your opponent around the court and developing your patterns of play.
It takes good hands to have that soft touch on a basketball and also to control those tennis volleys. Both sports are also played with a lot of change of speeds and directions. So if you’re a high school coach and thinking your talent pool may be heading south, you might be wise to start checking out some of your school’s basketball players.
Can you say John Isner?