Playing sports year-round too much for kids? – I remember growing up and constantly being active in sports. I tried a little bit of everything, and my schedule was very busy – almost as if I was competing in something year round, but not quite.
There was always an offseason. And by offseason, I mean having the chance to be a kid! A chance to go get dirty, play in the mud, swim with my friends, ride my bike, play dress up, have sleepovers and whatever else kids can get into innocent trouble doing.
These days, being an athletic kid takes a lot of work (pay special attention to the word “work”).
Kids aren’t just specializing in one sport, they’re playing everything and now are referred to as multi-sport athletes. It has become a job, so much that kids these days don’t know what an offseason looks like. Even if they are stuck on just one sport, the atmosphere has become so cut throat and competitive that in order to separate from the pack, training or competing constantly is deemed absolutely pivotal to their development.
But is it?
Parents get caught up in signing kids up for every camp, every select-level tournament – and most of the time it’s because that’s what they are told to do. And trust me, I totally get it. When your kid first starts out in sports, it’s cute. But then they get good – really good – and you want to keep the momentum going.
My own daughter Lucy is a perfect example. Even as a competitive cheerleader, her schedule is nonstop. By the end of the school year, even she is burnt out.
So I ask you, is having your kid play sports year round really worth it?
While your kid is sure to become an elite-level player by playing sports year round – practice makes perfect, right? – there are significant downsides to such a rigorous training schedule.
The article below is a little old, but it offers three simplistic reasons why training year round is not good.
- Summer leagues offer no benefit
- Kids don’t know how to have fun
This article, really hit home for me. Never mind the notion that summer leagues aren’t all they are cracked up to be … but by having your kid play sports year round, you are running the risk of having your child face serious injuries.
But Karma, this is the only way to keep my boy (or girl) up to speed with all the other kids out there!
Well let me ask you this, do you think professional athletes compete year round? They don’t – baseball has an offseason, football has one, too. Would you get up and workout for four hours every day for an entire year? No, you wouldn’t. Why? Because it’s just not good for you!
Tommy John is a former major league baseball pitcher whose nearly 300 career victories ranks him seventh all time among left-handed pitchers in major league history. But he is likely more known for a revolutionary surgery – now named after him – that helped repair a damaged ligament in his pitching arm.
There are young kids having a similar surgery! And it’s all from playing too often, and too hard. Every pitcher is different, but one thing they all have in common is that they can only throw so many hard pitches in their lifetime before it’s time to call it quits.
The adult body needs downtime, and even pro athletes recognize that. So why must your kid do it different?
Kids need to stay active. And if they are really good at a sport, I’m all for doing whatever you can to help them perfect their craft – but you need to strike a balance between competition and letting them be kids. Playing sports year-round.
Bottom line, it’s OK to have an offseason – and let your kid be a kid.