Kids are getting into sports earlier than ever. They compete at five, have a trophy case at seven and are on the travel team by age nine.
Then these young athletes burn out or wear out by 13. Sometimes because parents push kids to be the next superstar athlete. Other times because kids are driven to succeed or to impress mom and dad.
Too much time on playing fields, courts, diamonds, rinks and pools can end up causing your kids stress, pain and frustration. As parents, we need to manage the pace and intensity of our kids’ playing and practice time so that sports become a lifelong source of enjoyment and fitness.
There are no set rules, but keep these general guidelines in mind.
Because your kids’ bones and muscles are developing and growing, they are more prone to injury, especially from over use. Injuries sustained early in life can cause permanent damage and chronic pain.
Coaches sometimes push young athletes. So as a parent, it’s important to recognize the signs of over use and burnout and help your kids heal. Signs of trouble may include:
Your child may both have a hard time backing down when he or she is seen as talented or promising. Kids want attention. They also want to live up to your and their coaches expectations. So how do you encourage without pushing too hard?
Make sports enjoyable and attainable for your child’s lifetime. Avoid the temptation to relive your dream of becoming the superstar through your child. Never pressure your child to excel in sports for a shot at a college scholarship. Instead, make sports a way to exercise, have fun and spend time together.
Brenner. (2014). Sports: How much is too much? Retrieved June 6, 2014, from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters: http://www.chkd.org
Micheli. (2012). Sports Training – How much is too much. Retrieved June 6, 2014, from US Youth soccer: http://www.usyouthsoccer.org