Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy


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What did we do wrong?

Don't Let Youth Sports Hijack Your Life

Over the past 50 years, youth athletics has gone from a world where kids far outnumber adults to one increasingly inhabited by adults. Adult financial motives have fueled this change, and the climate of youth sports has grown, like our society, highly competitive and striated. At times it seems the very interests of those at the heart of these programs — young people themselves — get lost. In middle- and upper-income communities, ambitious programs feed families into expensive, time-consuming regimes, even for kids with little desire to play college sports. On the other end of the spectrum, in the low-income families that are home to 45 percent of our children , youth have far fewer athletic options.

Budgets have been slashed for many P.

Life and Youth Sports: The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy

For lacrosse, that number is 56 percent, and only 4 percent of children playing lacrosse come from low-income households. These numbers echo the experience of Jill Vialet, the founder of Playworks, an Oakland, California based nonprofit that works in low-income urban schools where recess and after school programs have been cut.

Five Types of Youth Sports Parents

Only 17 percent of kids nationwide participate in any kind of after school sports programs. According to Vialet, the lack of opportunity for kids to go to open spaces unsupervised, play with kids of all ages, and make up their own rules has stripped kids of important long-term benefits. Which, it turns out, is exactly what happened to my son.

One of my daughters was physical and competitive from day one; for her, participation in multiple sports seemed predestined. Our other daughter joined a sports team in high school after a significant tragedy; the camaraderie, endorphins, and singular focus of practice saved her from depression. Suddenly, he was part of a world of fiercely focused kids, whose highly invested parents and elite coaches expected excellence even in their youngest players.

The natural result was children getting serious about one sport and specializing early. In , the Journal of Sports Sciences published a widely-cited report recommending against early specialization , and MomsTeam, an organization providing guidance for sports parents, followed up with an extensive list of myths and facts around specialization.

In , in a position statement on overtraining syndrome and burnout in youth sports, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine recommended against early specialization for greater long-term success.

Don't Let Youth Sports Hijack Your Life | Outside Online

An American Medical Society study of UCLA Division 1 athletes found that 88 percent had played multiple sports , further throwing into question the value of specialization. But misguided adult notions seem to be steering the truck. The NCAA sets a limit on what teams can offer, and with the exception of revenue sports like football and basketball, most college teams are splitting their scholarship money among dozens of players.

But omnipresent parental involvement can hinder that development. That was my experience.

The Realities of Youth Soccer Today

I loved tennis, soccer, and track, but my parents rarely followed the details of my sporting life even when I was on a champion team. The motivation for our childhood involvement in sports came only from our young selves. Our parents owned no part of it. We had all, at some point, and perhaps without much reflection, responded to the call for tryouts, written checks, filled the car with gas, and made the journeys to the sports complexes in Antelope, Clovis, or Las Vegas. Innate interest and athletic skill varies from child to child, but our collective willingness to spend time and money on the demands of youth sports teams does not.

Clark Omholt is a Northern California father with two exceptionally athletic daughters whose family, after much consideration, eschewed the natural progression to travel teams. The whole goal is just to carry that joy with us into our adult lives.

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To summarise, the importance of the role parents play in youth sport is unquestionable, but caution must be taken to ensure the enjoyment and sporting development of children is not hindered. Get started. Find out more. Sign up now. This will enhance self-confidence and facilitate the transfer of such skills to other areas of life. If the same messages are being portrayed by both the parent and the coach then there is a lower chance of the child becoming confused, which means they will be able to focus more on working towards set goals.

Provide emotional and tangible support. This may seem obvious, but reassuring your child that you are there when they need you will show your support. Although this may be your way of showing you care, be wary that there is a fine line between supporting your child and over involvement. Provide inappropriate coaching advice.


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This may provide conflicting messages to that which they have received from the coach. If you disagree with the coach, it is better to talk it through and have a quiet discussion with them at another time, rather than potentially coming across as disrespectful. Put too much pressure on and emphasise the importance of winning and success. No matter what standard of competition your child is, they should always be enjoying their sport. Additional pressure can take away this enjoyment and be detrimental to their performance.

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Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy
Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy Life and Youth Sports : The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy

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