In the 60’s and 70’s most kids joined their first baseball or soccer team when they were around 9 years old. It was a fun way to teach kids how to play sports and if they didn’t like it much the next year they could try a completely different sport. Most kids only played one sport per year or maybe baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter. Fast forward to today and things are quite different. The changes in youth sports over the years have been significant.
Kids are Playing Younger
Today kids are starting to play organized sports even as young as 3, before they are really old enough to understand the rules. They play a sport chosen by their parents and by the age of 10 they are playing year round with special coaches. The intensity for children that young used to be only reserved for elite level high school and college athletes. This brings up a bunch of problems.
Kids are being signed up to sports younger than ever. Normally they wouldn’t start trying to play soccer until 7-8 years old or even older before they started playing basketball. At this age, 3-5 these kids just don’t have the physical coordination, the attention span or understanding to go through an hour long practice. This makes the sport too hard so your kids don’t end up liking whatever sport their parents put them into.
Picking a Sport
Today kids have to pick the sport of their choice by the time they are ten years old, this is the path that most kids have to take in order to earn those coveted scholarships in college. One side effect is that kids younger than ever are having to have stressed injuries treated. Right up until they enter college kids bodies are still growing and developing, they are too young for both the physical and mental stress that comes with being an elite athlete. That being said there are some kids with some phenomenal talent as you can see in the video below.
The Role of Parents and Coaches
Putting kids in sports at such a young age is a choice made by parents and we have all heard stories of the overzealous parent at a little league sporting event. There have been plenty of parents who are no longer permitted at their child’s games because of inappropriate behaviour. That has caused schools and youth leagues to make parents sign a code of conduct for when they attend games. Coaching has also become more intense for those coaching young athletes. Imagine being the coach who taught Michael Phelps or Tom Brady. It opens up huge career possibilities when you have coached a champion. Maybe it’s time to get back to letting kids enjoy the game.Read More