The Ups and Downs of Youth Sports

My Son is has been a part of many different sports programs. He has had 6 years of swimming lessons, did about 2 years of Gymboree, followed by 4 years of Gymnastics. He has completed 2 years of basketball and is last spring finished up his 4th year of baseball (2 were tee ball). Also last spring he was a part of a club Soccer Program while he played baseball and then in our free time he also participated in a few Track and Field Meets around the area. He has done a few flag football camps, soccer camps, and is currently in hos 4th year of soccer. He just turned 8 in late May.

img_1485Before you assume I am that totally overbearing sports parent who shoves sports down my kids throat let me just tell you this has all been his decision. He absolutely loves sports. Maybe even more than I do. I try to coach him as little as possible, I have not been a head coach on his team yet. he and I just have some fun together in our free time working on his skills for his various sports. I hope to be his coach in High School for the various sports I coach now so I want to make sure he is not totally sick of me by the time he gets there.

To this point most of his sports have been all about fun and learning but I am noticing how quickly this is changing. In his soccer tournament he is participating in this weekend it is interesting to see the different levels of the kids. He is playing a year up, for you in the soccer world he is a U-9 playing on a U-10 team. This means the ids are bigger, faster, and stronger than he is. There are several kids on the team that are in the same situation This does not bother him but I notice the way that the parents on our team are becoming unhappy about our boys getting beat by the older teams.

The reason I bring this up is that I notice the amount of stress and pressure that is being placed on these kids at younger and younger ages. To some this may be a good thing but I think it is very dangerous to start teaching kids at the age of 8 that their worth is determined by their athletic success. Sports has become such a major integral part of our society which to me is fine. I love sports but I think that we are taking it too far when we start putting so much value into an 8 year olds Soccer Game.

I cringe every time I see a parent overly criticize their kid on the field when to be honest the kids are out there simply trying to understand the game. Lets not add pressure to an already stressful situation for them. Encourage and let them grow. Everyone who plays a sport leaves themselves open to criticism but lets not criticize an 8 year old for letting a ball get by him in goal. Save that for the people getting paid to play, not kids who are simply trying to have some fun.

5 Comments on this post

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  1. Patty said:

    Could that be an FC Portland soccer uniform on the lad?

    August 23rd, 2009 at 5:07 pm
  2. Scott said:

    Good guess but it is a Southside Jersey 🙂

    August 23rd, 2009 at 8:35 pm
  3. Patty said:

    Just heard this on the radio. what do you think?

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112028857

    August 24th, 2009 at 4:50 am
  4. Scott said:

    To be honest Patty I am not a fan of kids doing this. Especially the barbells. Keep the kids on the playground and use more of the presidential fitness moves like pushups and situps. I do understand why trainers may like it but again I look more at the negative side effects of resistance training on kids. Go climb a tree or a fence and play on the monkey bars instead.

    Thanks for the link!

    August 24th, 2009 at 10:42 am
  5. Debbi said:

    Thanks, Scott. We really appreciate this from someone in your postion. You love sports, desire others to be properly fit and fed and compete to the best of your ability, but you realize that that is not all there is to life. Our kids do not have to be “little adults” – they have enough pressure being the age they are and growing emotionally, academically, physically, socially and spiritually at their level. They want to be loved and accepted for who they are and the pressure parents put on them to compete is one of the reasons we held back from some organized sports when ours were younger. You are doing a great job – teaching them to challenge themselves and be persistent but also to have fun and learn from mistakes as they grow.

    August 30th, 2009 at 6:38 am

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