My kids are all grown up now, but from talking to friends and coworkers with young kids, it’s clear that youth sports have become very serious. Kids compete too much and too quickly. They specialize in sports at a very young age, then get tired and stop loving the sport altogether. They spend a lot of time doing similar tasks with similar movement patterns. It monopolizes any free time the kids (and the rest of the family) have. And, perhaps most importantly, parents are wrapped up in it too.
But it does not exist in a vacuum. Children love to play games and they need to move their bodies.
The foundation of all human movement is play – engaging in a broad spectrum of spontaneous moments, reacting to novel situations as they arise, associating movement with intrinsic reward and pleasure and enjoyment. The problem is that the classic childhood culture of free play, the way children historically (and pre-historically) developed their ability to move through physical space and engage with the physical world, is disappearing from neighborhoods. Is happening Joining a competitive youth sports team is often a child’s only chance to advance.
So how can you make it work without it getting out of hand? How can kids get involved in youth sports without getting tired, getting hurt all the time, and hating what used to be fun?
Keep it fun.
They’re playing “the game”, remember? are playing It’s fun to play. It is blissful. If you are enrolling your child in a legitimate youth sports recreation league, be sure the emphasis is on recreation. This may mean calling the coach and talking about his philosophy and their target for children.
Don’t criticize them on the ride home. Don’t badmouth them about missing a play or shot. If they start dreading going to practice, making excuses why they can’t go today, listen. To accommodate rest on them. Let them play games. If You Ruin The Game, You Ruin The Idea Of It Play Play Altogether.
Delay the contest as long as you can.
A story as old as that is the kid who starts a sport — maybe it’s wrestling — at age 5, gets a knack for it, loves it, and soon starts competing. He wins a few tournaments, does well, wins more than he loses, but then at age 10 or 11, he loses interest. The game he loved to play became a chore, a job, a source of stress and pressure. 10, 11, 12 year olds are not built to deal with the kind of stress associated with the sport they are supposed to love.
Meanwhile, kids who get involved in a specific sport at age 12 go on to compete at a higher level, after spending their younger years playing and trying a bunch of new sports all the time. Of course, there are exceptions, but I have seen this happen time and time again.
let them decide to compete.
The desire to compete must emerge from within. The human child is a complex creature still in the flower of development. To grab them in the middle of development and throw them into a game and say “okay, now compete at a higher level” is to disrupt the delicate process of development. human beings Huh Naturally competitive, but this competition comes out at different times for different children. It can quickly “batch spoil” if that makes sense. Like cooking, you have to respect the recipe.
Now, if they want to compete, but as the time comes, you should push them. Get them involved. That’s just the pre-game jitters. As long as they’ve made that initial decision, you can help them stick to it.
Don’t coach (unless you are an actual coach).
Often the parent will be the coach for the youth sports team. If that’s you, be the coach. Definitely become a coach. This is your formal role. But don’t be the parent yelling from the sidelines. Don’t parent your child into the exercise of giving advice and adjustments as you go up and around the coach. Do not mix the worlds.
Consider it a “movement” discipline rather than a sport.
When kids are younger and looking for physical activity, consider non-traditional alternatives to classic sports.
- A gymnastics and tumbling class at the local recreation center.
- A parkour or ninja-training course at a local movement gym.
- Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, or some other grappling martial art where kids will be moving around, exploring dozens of different joint articulations, and “roughhousing” in a safe and controlled way.
- Swimming is a legal sport, but a season or two of swimming can set them up for life with strong skills. No need to compete with it.
This will give them the ability to move well, express their physical potential through time and space, make friends, build their stamina and endurance and set them up well for any traditional sport they try in the future .
play with balls
Keep a bunch of balls around the house and have your kids play with them.
playing catch Start with easy predictable throws and then move on to making them react to unpredictable throws. Dribbling with your feet and hands. Dribbling unorthodox objects such as a tennis ball. The carryover of a basketball or soccer ball is huge and makes it very easy. playing dodgeball. The classic schoolyard game, now banished or severely neutered in most schools, taught millions to dodge, turn, catch and throw with great power and precision.
Just moving a ball around, getting comfortable with it. Tossing and catching it while walking. Tossing it while watching TV. Idle game, so that it becomes your part.
Give them their space.
Unless you are dealing with really young children who still need their parents momentarily, I would recommend that you leave your child for exercise and something else for an hour Do it. If you’re going to watch, do it from a distance where they can’t really see you. Don’t be front and center during practice. What you’ll find is that if you’re right there on the edge, kids will constantly look to you for approval. They’ll scan your face for disappointment, or happiness. You don’t want that. You want your kids to be fully immersed in the game, do it for themselves – not for you.
Let the field or wrestling room or track or court be their space that they learn to do on their own. Think of it as a little taste of separation.
Anything works as long as they’re running.
Diversity is the spice of movement. There are hundreds of sports, physical activities and skills
Not even a game is necessary. there is:
- martial arts
- to hunt
- horse gear
- rock climbing/bouldering
to name just a few.
Choose entertainment leagues instead of travel leagues.
At least when they’re on the youth side, a more casual rec league makes more sense to most kids than a serious year-round travel league. It doesn’t take all your time. It’s not year-round, so your kids can try different sports throughout the year. It’s not that expensive – you’re not renting hotels and spending money on planes and gas. It is not as competitive and serious, which can force your child into bad patterns—both behavioral and psychological.
You can always go to a travel league if your child expresses an interest and has the chops for it. But choose rec leagues whenever possible, because going back once you’ve committed to travel is difficult, if not impossible.
Play multiple sports.
Number one issue with. I grew up playing every sport outside with my friends, roaming the neighborhood for pick-up games, and getting into trouble just about wherever I went. It made me the man and athlete that I am today. I can play any number of sports and still get on well in part because I grew up playing everything. If that happy childhood experience is no longer available to your kids, you can help them achieve the same results by allowing them to play multiple sports instead of focusing on at least one. It also spreads the “movement load” across various tissues that might otherwise be overloaded and injured by repetitive motions.
When they grow up, they can specialize in whatever they want, but the best foundation for an athlete is to play everything.
Always keep trying
They can try anything and quit if they don’t like a particular sport or physical activity – but they have to choose another. They should always keep trying.
Ask yourself “Who is this for?”
Are you pushing your child into sports for their benefit, or for your own?
Now, there is an argument that they may not have known the benefits of the game. Sports can have long-term benefits along the way: the friends you make, the skills and athleticism you develop, the camaraderie, the pressure you face, the joy of victory and how you learn to temper the bitterness of defeat. These are all real considerations that your average 7 year old with an average time horizon doesn’t factor into their decision of whether or not to play the game.
However, those benefits are more likely to emerge if the child actually enjoys the sport. Pushing him into this against his will makes it less likely that he will heed those positive lessons and more likely that he will resist them.
Here are some things to keep in mind while making your child’s youth sports league experience optimal, ideal and most importantly fun,
Take care, everyone. I would love to hear your thoughts on youth sports.
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