Being a parent with children that played sports, I have been to my share of ball games. Some of these games were enjoyable, while others, not so much. The games that were not much fun for me to attend were the ones where the coach screamed and yelled the whole game. Oh, and let’s not forget the screaming and yelling of the parents at the coaches, children, and even other parents. Why, all the hostility and aggression? Are the children not supposed to be having fun? Seems like a bit too much pressure for the little ones to have to endure, all for the sake of winning.
Well known surgeon Dr. James Andrews, believes that parents are pushing their children into sports too hard and too soon. Children that play multiple sports often train year round. As one sport ends they immediately begin training and preparing for the next one. 3.5 million children under the age of 15 are treated for sports injuries each year. Half of these injuries are the result of overuse. Sports injuries, normally associated with adult athletes, are now commonly being found in young kids. These injuries often end a child’s sports career, and leave them with lifelong health problems.
Many coaches are volunteers. This is a great and wonderful thing, but, they are not professionally trained to examine or diagnose injuries. Too many of these wannabe coaches have the play through the pain mentality. We have pain for a reason; it lets us know something is wrong. If a child is sent back into the game with a sprained ankle, he or she might leave the game on the next play with a broken foot. Other injuries sometime come from how hard the coaches push players in practice. These coaches need to remember they are coaching children, not an NFL or NBA team.
To a child that plays a sport, he or she should be having fun. After all, that’s why they wanted to play in the first place. A coach that pushes elementary or middle school age kids too hard, is no better than the parent that insist the child train every day of the year. If injuries don’t catch up with the child, sports burnout surely will. Big coach and parent egos have ruined many a player over the years.
Back around our countries Bi-Centennial, sandlot baseball and football was the thing to do. Kids came home dirty, healthy and happy. Why, because playing back then was actually fun. They weren’t mentally stressed because they couldn’t remember all 300 plays in the playbook. There was no playbook. In the huddle you were told to go long or short and I’ll hit you if you get open. Parents and coaches need to lighten up. If you want your child to play sports on down the road, you need to make sure their healthy and happy now. While children often want to grow up and be like their sports heroes, they shouldn’t be training like them while they’re in school.