by Laura B.
“My 10 year old daughter’s soccer coach told her she had to pick one sport, and start doing additional private training on the side, or he would give away her spot on the team.”
This quote from the article “The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports” really upsets me. That is a huge amount of unnecessary pressure put on a child from the coach by telling her she isn’t good enough and has to start trying now if she wants any shot. I only hope that the parents realized that that early specialization is not healthy for the long term athlete development for their child.
Parents today are being told they should specialize their children early if they want any chance in making it as a college athlete. Parents are trying to give their children all these opportunities to succeed at a sport that they may never have had. Parents believe that they are helping them succeed in sports, by dragging their kid rink-to-rink. Somewhere parents lose sight of what is really important and that is whether the children are actually enjoying playing. By premature specializing of youth in sports it can cause harm to their athlete development by promoting one-side development and increase the likelihood of injury or burnout (“LTAD Stages,” n.d.).
As a ten-year-old girl,she should still be learning general sports skills that can be transferred to other activities. For example, the coaches of a 10 year old girl playing softball and soccer should be emphasizing putting your body in front of the ball to stop it. It is a general skill that she can transfer while she is trying several activities. Additional private training is not something coaches should be encouraging at this age
Coaches need to not just think of their one-season goals for the youth, coaches are incredibly influential on youth and how they perceive sports. If the coach is yelling all the time, and punishing their players verbally or physically on the ice, children are not going to enjoy their experience. They can end up fearing the coach and think all coaches will act that way and not want to rejoin the sport the following year.
College coaches are actually looking for multi-sport athletes. It shows coaches that the athlete is well rounded. With their variety of athleticism they probably didn’t reach their full potential in a single sport because they have yet to specialize. Athletes that have specialized already will more likely burnout quicker then the athletes that have not specialized yet. This does not mean parents should sign their youth up for every sport possible.
It means parents need to allow their children to participate in sports and activities which bring the most enjoyment to their youth. When youth do get a break from one sport by getting to play another, it is those kids that are running into the rink or the field just bouncing to get back.
After reading these articles and looking at the Long Term Athlete Development model, it reconfirms my thoughts of how youth should not be specializing in sports too soon. Athletes need to grow and develop until they are at the mature level to specialize; for most athletes that is not until late high school or university. Parents and coaches need to realize this and not be telling a 10 year old to specialize. They should want the athlete to be active for life, not just for that season.
The Race to Nowhere In Youth Sports. (2014, October 20). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://stevenashyb.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-race-to-nowhere-in-youth-sports/
LTAD Stages. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2014, from http://canadiansportforlife.ca/learn-about-canadian-sport-life/ltad-stages
Why College Coaches Prefer Multi-Sport Athletes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.laxmagazine.com/high_school/recruiting/2013-14/news/090214_why_college_lacrosse_coaches_prefer_multi-sport_athletes