As part of the newly redesigned Simply Sports Website, I have added a section called Coach Jeff’s Blog. I will be blogging on a regular basis on topics related to youth sports and your children. My goal is to present you with insight into some of the decisions, issues and challenges you face regarding your child and the world of sports. I welcome feedback and debate on the topics and information I will be blogging about. My first few blogs will dive right in about a topic that many of you are dealing with, that is, whether sport specialization is good for your child. Each blog will look at the issue of specialization from different angles and hopefully present you with a complete picture to better help you decide what is best for your child.
The theme of this blog is not anti-sports specialization, however, it is being written to make you think about at what age should your child specialize and what are the trade-offs in doing so.
At the beginning of every program whether it is a league, multi-sport after-school program or a holiday program, the first thing I always say to the children is,
“Rule #1 IS TO HAVE FUN!”
Sports should be fun. It should be fun no matter if your child is playing on a competitive travel team, a pick up flag football or a game of Gaga. Sports can and should be fun on whatever level your child is participating. The decision to play sports and the decision to specialize should be that of your child. Our job as parents is to expose our children to many different experiences, in this case to many different sports, and then it is up to the child to decide what they think they might want to pursue on a deeper level.
Chances are, your child views sports differently from the way you do. Most children want the following from sports: 1) have fun; 2) improve skills; 3) be with friends; and 4) improve health and fitness. Conversely, many children drop out of sports because: 1) of an overemphasis on winning; 2) not having fun; 3) the stress of competition; or 4) a dislike for his or her coach.
Children need their pre-teen years to discover who they are. In a future blog I will spend more time on the topic of how a child is defined but the thought I want to leave you with for now is that variety unlocks performance. Each different sport gives a child a new and different insight in to themselves as athletes and competitors and allows them to develop new skills.
In the next few blogs I will get more specific about things to consider about your child and not only whether or not sport specialization is for that child but at what age would be best for your child to specialize.
Please feel free to share your thoughts by emailing me at Jeff@simplysports.net