Sports is hurting your children!

Yes, you read it right, but the culprit is not what they play but how they play it!

Got it? No?

Okay let me explain, we all know the physical and psychological benefits of sports but there are some very serious issues that need to be addressed.

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Look at this statement and take a guess “Kids join youth sports programs in droves & drop out in droves”. (Indiana University,2016)

A study conducted by the Sports & Fitness Industries Association (2014) states that about 40% of kids played team sports on regular basis in 2013 which is down from 44.5% in 2008. So, there is a significant cause that children and youth are dropping out in high numbers.

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So, let’s address the elephant in the room.

In recent years there has been an increased focus on competitive sports which puts a lot of pressure on kids to do well. So here is the list of common issues that needs to be addressed:

Increased burnout: Rigorous schedule coupled with only focusing on winning is increasing burnout and stress in kids.

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The fun is missing: Children love to make friends and they play sports because it’s fun for them, they socialize, and learn from each other but all this “do or die” mentality of adults is putting a lot of unwanted pressure on the young minds.

Anxiety and nervousness: Children sometimes have to bear the burden of their parents’ expectations. Sometimes parents just want to fulfil their dreams through their children. So, the guilt related to losing a game is so heavy.

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A paper submitted by Eitzen, (2009) and Johnson, (2012) states that the rate of children dropping out by the time they are 12 or 13 is a matter of grave concern.

Indeed, it is because, our expectations and dreams have turned sports into a monster that haunts children.

Now that we know about the issue let’s try to figure out what we can do as adults.

First and foremost, as parents we need to check our involvement, our focus should be entirely on the child’s overall development rather than on winning or competing. Remember if the child is not happy then it’s not worth it!

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And please do not use your children as a medium to fulfil your sports dream and understand that your child is an individual, they have their own identity and interest, so guide them whenever needed but don’t pressurize.

Encourage the child to play multiple games since this will expose them to different settings, and rules and they’ll get a chance to explore more.

If the child is interested in a particular sport, then teach them to play it just to enjoy, to explore and to stay fit rather than focusing on winning, and put them into professional coaching once they are physically and most importantly mentally prepared.

Coaches also have an important role to play here, teach your students about the ultimate goal of a sport i.e., enjoying while playing without thinking about winning or losing!

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The article may sound very preachy to some but understand that sport is meant to improve the overall physical and mental state of an individual thus building a strong society where individuals have resilience, strength, character and most important happiness!

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Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section, we would love to hear from you!

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