Parents have become obsessed with their children’s success in sports. The world of youth sports has turned into a multibillion dollar industry thanks to clinics, camps, showcases, travel teams, and personal trainers. Nearly every athlete wants to take advantage of all that’s out there, and parents are seemingly willing to pay the most for it.
This has created more competition in the quest to earn a college scholarship and more involvement from parents and who want to monitor every move their kid makes. This can take an emotional and physical toll on their young athletes.
Julie Foudy, who was a four-time All-American at Stanford University and Olympic medalist in soccer has some sage advice for parents in youth sports:
“Encourage and open the door for them, but let them run through it,” Foudy said. “We want so badly for our kids to be successful that we end up putting so much pressure on them. Parents should step back and let their kids find the joy in what they are doing.”
The road to being a high school athletic star, much less an Olympic one, is long and arduous. There will be setbacks, failures, and everything is not always going to be fair. Basketball icon Rebecca Lobo believes it’s a good idea for parents to scale back on their expectations and let their kids chase their own dreams, not theirs.
“I had a mother who supported everything that her children wanted to do,” said Lobo. “It didn’t matter if it was sports or something else. She taught us that you should go for it and that she’d always be there for us.”
Foudy believes parents should try to find coaches who not only understand the game but know how to make it fun for the kids; happy kids stay in sports longer.
Foudy further believes parents should avoid sport-specialization. “I will always advocate playing multiple sports,” Foudy said. “When kids specialize in one sport they run the risk of injury and burnout. If kids are playing the same sport over and over it can be mentally draining and they can get bored and end up quitting.”
Youth sports are becoming more and more demanding. We could all use this great advice from legendary athletes who have already been down the road in order to prevent burnout amongst our youth.
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