Despite the wide gap between players’ ages, the line between youth sports and the big leagues has begun to blur in recent years. Youth sports has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry, and many parents today are willing—and often eager—to spend enormous sums of time and money making sure that their child has the most competitive, advanced experience possible, perhaps to help with their college prospects. Meanwhile, many parents look at the intensification of youth sports and wonder: How much is too much?
The decision to stop or scale back playing youth sports is a difficult one and varies for each family and each child, but there are common factors to consider as you weigh your options. Take a look below at some of the signs that your child might be overcommitted or over-involved in youth sports.
When It Causes Injury
The physical nature of youth sports helps kids to build muscle and get fit, but it can also lead to a series of injuries. For example, overuse injuries—which are becoming increasingly common among youth athletes, especially those who only play one sport—result from repetitive stress on muscles and can cause severe, constant pain. Other regular youth sports injuries include sprains, fractures, cuts, eye injuries, and more. If your child starts racking up injury upon injury, then it may be time to think about reducing their commitment to youth sports.
When It Leads to Burnout
The main reason why kids play youth sports is because it’s fun. Therefore, when youth sports stops being fun, kids will burn out and want to quit. Common reasons for burnout are too much of an emphasis on winning, spending too much time at practice or games, and so on. Instead of watching your child burn out and lose interest in youth sports altogether, you can work with them to scale back their youth sports involvement or find ways to make the game fun again.
When It Interferes with Other Areas
While youth sports can be a formative element of childhood, kids should be exposed to a wide range of activities: band, scouting programs, and more. At the same time, your child should also focus on doing well in school. When youth sports conflicts with these other commitments—either because your child is too tired from practice to pay attention in class, too busy going to games to attend their other club meetings, out of commission due to injury, or for some other reason—you should talk to your son or daughter about restructuring their schedule, perhaps to ensure that youth sports programs don’t get in the way of their other activities.