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Monday, February 29, 2016

Crazy Youth Sports

From the over-trained and burnt out little kids, to the disillusioned college students thinking they'll go pro, and all the uber-competitive parents and coaches in between, something has gone awry in youth sports these days.

Results were recently released from the NCAA 's 2015 GOALS (Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Learning of Students in College) Study of the Student-Athlete Experience. This was the first time the survey included questions about youth sports. Here are some highlights:
  • College athletes reported specializing in their specific sports before they reached their teen years, and many said they regretted doing so this early.
  • The athletes revealed they thought they played in too many games at too young an age.
  • Approximately half, or more than half, of Division I male athletes in soccer, tennis, hockey, and basketball specialized in that sport by age 12.
  • Similarly, more than half of female Division I athletes polled already specialized in gymnastics, tennis, soccer, basketball, swimming, hockey, and softball at the same age.
When kids focus on one single sport too early, they are likely to suffer from overuse injuries, or other injuries such as broken bones, fractures, sprains and strains. Young bodies that are still growing and developing must be given time to adjust to new physical activities and heal properly.

Playing a single sport also limits a child's ability to pick up ancillary skills from other sports that may contribute to them being better competitors and more well-rounded athletes.

A great deal of pressure put on kids to perform at a high level at a very early age comes from parents. Parents' desires to send their child off to university that excels in a certain sport, and even have college paid for via an athletic scholarship, are enormous.

Many students even admitted that their parents had grander expectations of expecting them to eventually go pro. In reality, only a very small percentage of gifted and talented athletes in any sport ever make it to the elite professional level.

(Adapted from The Washington Post)

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