A few weeks ago, we featured our newest CoachUp Infographic that focused on answering one question: Are you a good or bad sports parent? The results, of course, were pretty frightening and highlighted the parent's inability to separate themselves from their child and their own athletic endeavors. You can find the entire graphic and write-up over here, but be warned, they might change the way you view youth sports in your family!
Either way, today is another day, which means we're reading (again) about youth sports spiraling out of control. This time, we're hearing from Dr. John Tauer at St. Thomas Magazine as he shared a pair of really disturbing youth sports stories. The first:
'He told me about a family that woke up their son at 4:30 a.m. on Saturdays during the summer. After a quick breakfast, they drove an hour to hockey practice from 5:30-7:30. Next, they were off to baseball practice from 8:30-10. Finally, soccer practice ran from 10:30-noon. He was only 8 years old!"
Now, this should go without saying ... but what?!
Three are a couple systematic problems with this tiny anecdote, believe it or not. Three practices a day will almost certainly burnout the most talented of athletes, especially at such a delicate pre-teen age. Secondly, you've got to wonder if the child is even having fun in this scenario -- back-to-back-to-back practices on Saturday morning? When does the child have any time to be a child? Watch cartoons? Play with friends? Even if this is the parent's way to vicariously live through their child, physically draining their athlete takes the focus away from the experience and only strives towards the end result.
The other story Dr. Tauer offers can be summarized as such: upon hearing that they'd have no official referee for their game, 80% of the children at a summer camp decide they'd rather not play without one. This is disappointing because we've failed as a parents, coaches, and leaders when children would rather not play a game at all because the focus would be on the ruined end result instead of the in-game experience along the way.
We (again) need to re-focus as a community on what is really important for these athletes and children. Are you pushing them so they can win the game? Or are you helping them learn confidence, self-esteem, how to work hard, and all the other invaluable benefits that youth sports can offer?
At its core, youth sports are a creative outlet for athletes to grow, develop, and have fun. Unfortunately, it seems like many have forgotten about the fun in favor of chasing success they may never find.
Thanks to Dr. Tauer for writing about these strange stories and thanks to you, the reader, in advance for helping us change the culture of youth sports one training session at a time.
St. Thomas Magazine -- The Failure Of Youth Sports