Pushing Too Hard

Topics: Sport, Childhood, Child Pages: 5 (1920 words) Published: January 26, 2012
Problems in Youth Athletic

Problems in Youth Athletics
One of the greatest feelings a parent can experience is watching a child excel in an activity. Rightfully so, many parents encourage children to perform well in sports. The problems start when the encouragement begins to go too far. Many parents and coaches toady exceed the boundaries of encouragement, and enter a realm of abuse. A lot of this behavior will start when a parent of coach believes that they are mentoring the next superstar athlete. When parents and coaches start to look at children as major prospects the problems in youth athletics begin to become major issues. In the 1950’s youth athletic programs began to grow quickly all over the United States. Today millions of children participate in organized youth sports programs. These programs were set out to help develop the skills of the youth not only in sports but in life as well. Also, an important focus of the youth leagues was for the children to have fun. In the past few years, the focus of the youth leagues has been changed by the parents and coaches due to the focus on performance and winning. Children are being introduced to competitive play at an earlier age than ever before. Some of the youth leagues have children competing as early as age four. Today many children are expected to play one sport all year long through various leagues. A commitment of this level is not good for young children. There are many problems that come along with pushing children too hard in competitive sports. “Burnout” is one of the biggest problems a young athlete can experience during youth sports. Burnout is also known as overtraining syndrome. According to the Childrens Memorial Hospital, “burnout, or overtraining is a condition in which an athlete experiences fatigue and declining performance in his/her sport despite continuing or increased training.”(2002). There are many factors that can lead to burnout in a young athlete today. Burnout can be caused by pressure to perform at a high level, from parents and coaches. Parents pushing children through excessive training will also contribute to burnout. Excessive training can be seen as parents pushing children to play only one sport, and play that sport all year long. Burnout does not just mean that a young athlete does not want to play sports any longer, but also has other repercussions. Childrens Memorial Hospital states that symptoms of burnout can also include muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and weight loss among other symptoms. (2009). For many young athletes burnout will cause them to quit sports all together. This is becoming a major issue with children in their early teens. Cary stated that some eighteen million children stopped participating in team sports in 2002. (2004). This is a very disappointing number considering how many of those children loved the sports they played at one time. Burnout causes many talented players to quit playing just because they do not enjoy sports any longer. As parents and coaches continue to become more aggressive toward youth sports, injuries to the participatants are on the rise. The old saying, practice makes perfect may be true but, overuse can also cause injury to young athletes. As more children are pushed into participating in just one sport, and often on a year round schedule, doctors are seeing more overuse injuries. The National Alliance for Youth Sports stated that Dr. James Andrews, and orthopedic surgeon, is seeing four times as many overuse injuries than he did in the last five years.(2010). A good example of overuse is in youth baseball travel teams. A talented pitcher is asked to pitch in thirty or more games in a season. They would also have the young child practicing year round. The pitchers at the professional level are not asked to pitch that much in a season to prevent injury. The children are not protected from overuse but the professionals are. When a parent or coach...
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