Would you expect a third grader to pass calculus? Would you expect a junior in high school to have the experience and knowledge to run a multimillion dollar corporation?   Well, this is what we are asking of our youth when it comes to sport performance and their conditioning programs.

     Due to the ultra/unhealthy competitive nature of youth sports; coupled with the physically larger size of children today, we are training our young athletes as if they were 5-10 years older than they really are. The result of this way of training will usually lead to less than optimal athleticism, more injuries, and lost of interest in sports among youngsters. In fact according to a recent article that was published in “THE REPUBLIC” an Indiana publication, researchers have estimated that 70 percent of participating kids leave organized sports before age 13. Which could be a big reason for the increase in obese and unhealthy teenagers that is plaguing our country today.

      Another down fall with training children as if they were adults, is we are not allowing the natural athletic developmental process that our Central Nervous system was programmed to produce. We are so consumed with “sport specific training” at such a young age that we aren’t even allowing our young athletes to learn and master “general athletic skills” that will aid them when faced with the more advanced “sport specific skills” that they should be introduced to when they get older. It is no different than trying to tell your third grader to pass calculus before he/she, has mastered basic arithmetic.  In one of my past blogs “Is sport specialization hurting our youth?” I mentioned how teaching basic coordination skills at a young age can and will help a youngster when it comes time to learn how to hit a baseball.

       I know it seems like all my blogs seem to be demeaning the way we are training our youth today. It’s not that I am on my high horse saying that I am the only one who knows how to train young athletes. It’s that the statistics that are coming out on how youth injuries have increased astronomically in the last ten years, and how the obesity rate in children and teenagers has gotten up to 40%, and even a recent report that was sent out by our Military stating how today’s recruits aren’t in nearly at the same fitness level as recruits 15 years ago, I would say it has become a huge National problem.

       With all the improvements in Physical Therapy, surgeries, and sports performance training, why still the increase in youth injuries and obesity? Simple, kids aren’t kids anymore. We treat our young athletes as if they were professionals. I’m sorry but a 6th grader is not a soccer player, she/he is an 11-year-old child who likes to play soccer. Until you are getting paid to play it is not your livelihood. Hiring a pitching coach for your 8 year old and having him play baseball and only baseball year round is insane. Except for the one out of thousands, 1 of 2 things will happen, they will either end up hating baseball by the time they are 14 or they will end up hurt and be unable to play baseball at a higher level. 

      Youth fitness and athletic development should be a teaching, and a long term developing process, not much different than that of our scholastic system. We should teach, educate, and develop, so whether a child grows up to be a professional athlete or not play sports at all, at least they will have a safe, and healthy athletic foundation that they can carry into adulthood.

Until next time,

Coach George

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