| by Nexus Sports Team |   


The most recent research efforts and studies tend to demonstrate that specializing kids in youth sports is counterproductive to their athletic development. Can a case be made about the hinderance of their mental development as well?

Statistics demonstrate that the number one reason for why kids stop practicing sports: it’s no fun anymore

The number three reason is “lack of playing time”

So, the real question here now becomes: “Is the focus on winning in youth sports alienating kids?”. Could it be that our desire to see our children thrive, succeed and accomplish hurt our children’s abilities and opportunities to learn and enjoy the game? If winning is everything, then losing must be embarrassing and shameful. Focusing too much on winning is a true deterrence as the children are stepping away from the challenge instead of embracing it.

Let’s clear up the distinction between “competitiveness” and “winning at all costs”. Competitiveness comes from being prepared and seizing opportunities paired with athlete behaviour such as “grinding”, determination and leadership. Winning at all costs has a wider spectrum. Unruly and unfair practices aside, winning at all costs usually involves unnecessary pressure tactics on highly talented kids, marginalization and underdevelopment of the lesser talented children and an occasional “grey area” tactic by a coaching staff. It’s the coaches’ responsibilities, and by extension their administrators, to ensure youth participants get an equal opportunity at learning and a fair opportunity at developing their skills.

Competitiveness is a cornerstone for child development and the victory must be achievable for all and by all. If the experience is not fun or the kids aren’t learning they will stop coming out to the field, arenas, courts and the pitch. Everyone has a role to play, albeit small, in meeting the team’s objectives. Parents and coaches are the single greatest influencers of these young minds and their behaviour will dictate how much time and effort kids will dedicate to sports and other matters of life.

The lessons learned from competitive sports will help your child grow and serve him or her well down the line. The first lesson we want our children to learn should be about goalsetting and perseverance. Given our predisposition for the happiness and well being of our children, the last lesson we want our kids to retain is how “boring” or “unpleasant” the experience has been. The best lesson a parent can teach his or her child, who demonstrates a truly competitive nature, is to teach them about gaining competitive edges. Perhaps its time to get that specialized equipment everyone is raving about. Or perhaps learning a new skillset, tactic or technique will get you over the hump this year? But that implies trying another competitive sport. 

All we need to do now is define the term «youth» and draw the line in the sand from youth to adulthood.


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