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Why are sports for kids so intense?


Ottakee
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Our 12 year old.foster son wanted to play lacrosse this spring. He is a 5th grader. Last fall they played for 6 weeks....2 days a week after school for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

 

I emailed about the lacrosse for this spring where they will have games, etc. WOW...it is 2 hours of practice FIVE nights a week plus games and weekend tournaments. This is for 5/6th grade level.

 

I am just not going to do that. I feel that is too intense for a rec program at this age.

 

What happened to low key, just for fun stuff?

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I sometimes think its for the parents.  It's crazy.

 

It may also have to do with coaches who like to think their sports are somehow the most important.

 

What drives me really nuts is the way seasonal sports want to push into the off-seasons.  For example, for hockey and skating now, they will tell you if your child wants to be good, he or she should also do summer clinics or play in a summer league.  So - no soccer or softball!

 

As well as being intense though, and a lot of driving around, the reserch on kids sports says that it is better if they play more than one.  Not only are they less likely to suffer serious injury, they are more likely to stay physically active as adults.

 

I heard an interesting interview a while ago with a retired tennis player.  They asked her what had changed since she was playing, and the thing she immediately said was that the rate of injuries and their severity were far higher.  I don't think that says good things about the way we are treating sports as a culture, and it trickles down to kids sports too, IMO.

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Our 12 year old.foster son wanted to play lacrosse this spring. He is a 5th grader. Last fall they played for 6 weeks....2 days a week after school for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

 

I emailed about the lacrosse for this spring where they will have games, etc. WOW...it is 2 hours of practice FIVE nights a week plus games and weekend tournaments. This is for 5/6th grade level.

 

I am just not going to do that. I feel that is too intense for a rec program at this age.

 

What happened to low key, just for fun stuff?

 

In middle school around here, it changes. Rec leagues dwindle because people who aren't super, ultra dedicated go to the free school teams. Or they start to do their one thing.

 

Lacrosse is a tough one. If my stepson wants to do soccer, he can do it through school, for kit only, no fees. But if he wanted to do lacrosse he'd be in the same spot as your foster son. It has to be private.

 

There is some parental pressure but the coaches also have pressure to perform by those parents who do want to win... honestly it's kind of a mess and one reason I really don't want my kids in gymnastics (talk about intense). But here I am... at a gym... ugh. Please let them get tired of it before they get to try out for team!

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That's one big reason why we put our dc in homeschool recreational sport programs or just avoid some sports altogether. There is the high cost, the time commitment, the over-emphasis on competition far too young, lack of well-trained coaches and the occurrence of physical injuries that keep us away from many youth sports. My dh and I have Masters degrees in sport fields, and we are very supportive of physical activity for ourselves and our dc. We seek out opportunities for physical activity for and with our dc where we can control more factors. Most of the recreational sport programs specifically for homeschool families in our area are once a week, focused on skill development and having fun, relatively inexpensive and led by trained and caring adults. Where there is no existing sport offered for homeschoolers, we've sometimes organized it ourselves.

 

Hopefully you can find a place for your foster son to play lacrosse in a less intense program, or you can help him find an alternative activity to try out.

 

Edited by wintermom
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I don't know.  I don't think it's that bad here, though my kids' soccer practices went from 1 hour per week to 3 hours (plus games) when they moved up to U10.  There is also more stress on winning than I would like to see on a so-called rec team.  I mean, yeah, we'd like to win, but not at the expense of peace and kindness.  I think we will stick it out through the spring but probably won't be back next fall.  Which may be a relief to some teammates' parents.  :P

 

We start school sports next year (5th grade), and I hope there is more emphasis on sportsmanship etc. vs. just being the best.  Thankfully we have enough non-competitive options if we hate school sports.  :)

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Is it still for only 6 weeks? Intensity isn't so bad in short spurts and the teammates should bond more. I do 8-10 hours of dance each week. It's honestly doesn't feel as all-consuming as it sounds. What would he do with the extra 7 1/2 hours that trumps exercising outside?

Last fall was six weeks. This spring it is about 10 weeks. With travel time it would be 3 hours a night, five days a week plus game and tournament time so minimum of 15 hours a week we would be gone just for his one activity.

 

I see that as way too much time to take away from family and the other kids (mine look older on paper but all have special needs so are more like 10-12 year olds too). He is in public school so he is already gone 8am-4:30 every day. Dh works 2nd shift as well so the driving and waiting would be all me as well.

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Parents living vicariously through their kids has been our experience.

My DH is president of our little league and has been on the board for 10+ years. He has been coaching since 1993.

 

I think you are exactly correct in your statement.  I think that is the main reason. 

 

The other is that no one is "average" anymore.  Everyone thinks their kid is the next Derek Jeter/Peyton Manning/Jordan Speith/Lebron James.  My husband spends a lot of time on the phone with parents who think their children should bypass their age appropriate level and move up one or two divisions.  Trust me, if your kid was good the coaches would have had him move up.  The people complaining the loudest are usually the most delusional.

 

It wasn't always like this.  It wasn't until the mid 2000s that we saw a real switch in parental mentality.  I do think that part of it (a very small part) is that college has gotten so expensive and people think an athletic scholarship is the answer to their not being able to pay for it.

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It isn't always the parents. :)

 

Some kids just love to compete, and by middle school they are starting to specialize. I see it as a natural process of sorting through their strengths and needs. Just as academically some kids start to migrate toward one subject or another, the same goes for sports. I don't see that as inherently bad, as long as the outside pressure to perform is kept to a minimum.

 

While my son doesn't play mainstream sports, I can fully appreciate that football in OK or TX (for example) comes with vastly different expectations than running and Nordic skiing do in New England. Lacrosse is rather a hardcore sport I think no matter where you play, and in many areas it just isn't as popular so travel time definitely plays in. My DH played all through high school and travelled around the Midwest because there were so few teams (especially public school teams) at that time.

 

We have done our share of putting the reigns on too many activities or certain activities because of the imbalance they had on our family life. I think that's an important parenting decision, honestly, and a good lesson for kids to learn. As hard as it might be to say no in the short term, the upside is that they reach a point when they start making those decisions themselves. :). And that leads back to the intensity question-- it gets more intense partially because kids are choosing Sport X over Sport Y (or both, kinda, at a lower level).

 

For kids who want to play sports but don't want the higher competition, most places offer a far wider range of opportunities outside the school system. Many get repeated here (swimming, running, TKD...) as sports that concentrate primarily on individual effort yet provide the same positives as team sports.

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I do think it's a little much for the age, but not completely off the wall.  I wouldn't mind seeing a more gradual transition from the little kid levels to the high school levels.  Their SHOULD (imo) be a shift from mostly running around a field to skills/plays/formations/strategy, and that DOES take more time when working with a large number of kids.

 

My 6th and 7th graders (or were, last year) had 3-4 coaches for an average of 3 practices a week, 2 hours/night when weather allowed, and there was a real struggle to impart much new knowledge on a gaggle of kids who have been playing (softball) together for the past 5 years.  It sounds like it should be easy, and some nights are easier than others, but it's tricky to fit goofing off and instruction, individual and team, into each session.

 

Most of my kids don't play instruments.  If they were in band, I expect they'd need to spend time on individual lessons, band practice, and additional hours at home.  Most of us don't have fields at home, so... 

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It isn't always the parents. :)

 

Some kids just love to compete, and by middle school they are starting to specialize. I see it as a natural process of sorting through their strengths and needs. Just as academically some kids start to migrate toward one subject or another, the same goes for sports. I don't see that as inherently bad, as long as the outside pressure to perform is kept to a minimum.

 

While my son doesn't play mainstream sports, I can fully appreciate that football in OK or TX (for example) comes with vastly different expectations than running and Nordic skiing do in New England. Lacrosse is rather a hardcore sport I think no matter where you play, and in many areas it just isn't as popular so travel time definitely plays in. My DH played all through high school and travelled around the Midwest because there were so few teams (especially public school teams) at that time.

 

We have done our share of putting the reigns on too many activities or certain activities because of the imbalance they had on our family life. I think that's an important parenting decision, honestly, and a good lesson for kids to learn. As hard as it might be to say no in the short term, the upside is that they reach a point when they start making those decisions themselves. :). And that leads back to the intensity question-- it gets more intense partially because kids are choosing Sport X over Sport Y (or both, kinda, at a lower level).

 

For kids who want to play sports but don't want the higher competition, most places offer a far wider range of opportunities outside the school system. Many get repeated here (swimming, running, TKD...) as sports that concentrate primarily on individual effort yet provide the same positives as team sports.

 

The specialization thing is interesting though, because it is actually a change - it hasn't always been that way, even in high school sports, it used to be very common for kids to play two or three sports.  There really isn't any evidence though to show that specialization produces better athletes or more scholarships - rather the opposite actually - kids who go on to play in university or get scholarships are more likely than average to play multiple sports, and less likely to be seriously injured leading to the end of their sports career.

 

Interestingly, in schools where the coaches are not specialized, kids are less likely to specialize as well.

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I can tell you for swimming the older you get the longer and more frequent the practice because swimming is a conditioning sport. The more you swim the better you get. And you lose it a lot faster then you gain it. So if you want to keep or improve your times you have to be in the pool.

 

It is not always parents living through their kids. Some kids truly love it and can't imagine not doing it.

 

My brother in law was on the high school swim team to remain in shape for baseball. He was all about baseball when he was young and any sport he did besides baseball was to keep him fit and ready for baseball. Back then they didn't have the camps and clinics like they do today.

 

I do think it is a shame that the rec leagues for fun are dying. Especially in the younger years. When mine were little I had them try everything so they could figure out what they enjoyed. A lot of times they want you locked in by age 5 and if you wait until 10 to start all the other kids have been playing for years and your kid feels like a flop.

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One of mine was in soccer at 5.  Already at that point parents were there screaming their heads off on the sidelines.  And they didn't play actual games at that point.  Just a few minutes of a sort of game where most of the kids kinda just looked dazed and stood there. 

 

My 5 year old was so upset about the whole thing he wasn't willing to continue.

 

 

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The specialization thing is interesting though, because it is actually a change - it hasn't always been that way, even in high school sports, it used to be very common for kids to play two or three sports. There really isn't any evidence though to show that specialization produces better athletes or more scholarships - rather the opposite actually - kids who go on to play in university or get scholarships are more likely than average to play multiple sports, and less likely to be seriously injured leading to the end of their sports career.

 

Interestingly, in schools where the coaches are not specialized, kids are less likely to specialize as well.

Mine plays many sports competitively. So do all his friends. They specialize in a sense, but around here anyway it's all seasonal. Not much Nordic skiing to be found in July. :).

 

Idk that it's changed much, not from what I see anyway. In high school when I was growing up, kids could only play one sport at a time. The boys I knew who played football practiced every night, and couldn't have played another sport during that season even if they wanted to. Here, I know the kids in middle and high school are only given permission to play one school spirt per season. Some kids play in outside leagues as well, but the school has no control over that. So that forces kids to make choices too, naturally evolving into specialization.

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Oh, I agree that 2 hours of physical activity can be great for a growing kid.  It isn't unusual for my kids to have 2-3 hours of activity per day all week.  But it is stressful when it's an obligation competing with other obligations, like homework.  The social aspects can also be stressful for some kids.

 

I like diversifying - my kids do 4-5 sports plus scouts - but then, my kids are 9yo.  I am not sure how things will look when they are 12.

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A lot of times they want you locked in by age 5 and if you wait until 10 to start all the other kids have been playing for years and your kid feels like a flop.

 

 

This is what bothers me the most -- at age 10, or even age 8, kids are over-the-hill for many sports.

 

This is one reason my boys are involved in Scouts.  While scouting involves a different kind of sport -- hiking, backpacking, canoeing, biking, climbing -- these are very good sports for kids to carry on through adulthood.   And even though these are not "team" sports, going on a backpacking trip with kids at different ability levels is indeed a group effort with lots of leadership opportunities.  

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Last fall was six weeks. This spring it is about 10 weeks. With travel time it would be 3 hours a night, five days a week plus game and tournament time so minimum of 15 hours a week we would be gone just for his one activity.

 

I see that as way too much time to take away from family and the other kids (mine look older on paper but all have special needs so are more like 10-12 year olds too). He is in public school so he is already gone 8am-4:30 every day. Dh works 2nd shift as well so the driving and waiting would be all me as well.

Um, yeah. That's over the top. I was thinking you could drop off at 11, but that much driving, and being trapped for the duration, would make me nuts. It does sound like overkill on top of a school schedule. I'm all for exercise, but I wouldn't sign on for THAT schedule.

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Mine plays many sports competitively. So do all his friends. They specialize in a sense, but around here anyway it's all seasonal. Not much Nordic skiing to be found in July. :).

 

Idk that it's changed much, not from what I see anyway. In high school when I was growing up, kids could only play one sport at a time. The boys I knew who played football practiced every night, and couldn't have played another sport during that season even if they wanted to. Here, I know the kids in middle and high school are only given permission to play one school spirt per season. Some kids play in outside leagues as well, but the school has no control over that. So that forces kids to make choices too, naturally evolving into specialization.

 

Yes, I meant multiple sports over the course of the year, generally in different seasons - this is becoming less and less common.  That is actually becoming much less common, kids are locked into one sport, in the off-season being expected to do clinics and such.  Or, the seasons cross at the edges and the teams and coaches won't organize things in such a way as to make it easier for kids to do different seasonal sports.

 

For example, my friend's son (9) has done skating lessons, for fun.  A few kids were identified as having potential, and so have been asked to do extra classes.  They are also expected now to take summer skating, which makes it difficult to do summer things like baseball or swimming.  Hockey is the same, running clinics all summer.  Serious soccer players on the other hand are now expected to play indoor leagues in the winter.

 

A big part of it seems, in the US, to be parents who think specializing will bring scholarships.  We don't have sports scholarships here, and it seems more to be about parents thinking they have some kind of obligation to maximize their children's achievement.  Or they have visions of the NHL.

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Mine plays many sports competitively. So do all his friends. They specialize in a sense, but around here anyway it's all seasonal. Not much Nordic skiing to be found in July. :).

 

 

Don't be so sure about that.  Dd's ski team trains year-round.  They condition and roller ski in the off season.  There are even summer camps and clinic.  Luckily, it is all optional.  Dd has chosen to participate in other sports during the off season rather than team training and that is 100% fine with her coaches.  Also being a more individual sport, there is plenty of room and encouragement for newbies even up into high school and kids who only want to participate in season.

 

The whole thing does frustrate me.  Dd is 12.  She tried soccer at age 9 and quit almost immediately because they put her on a team with 4-5 yos.  She was considered far too old to learn the sport from scratch and I felt like her placement on that team was almost an implied "punishment."  She has also expressed an interest in hockey.  At age 12, I don't even have to ask if that is a viable option.  I know it is not.  If your kid is not on skates by age 4 around here, forget it.  Every local 12 yo I know of that pays hockey is traveling every weekend.

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As far as the scedualing, I think the driving and equipment are a big part of the issue.  I know when my mom was a kid, she played on a softball team.  She grew up in the same neighbourhood I live in now, and the feild is about two blocks away.  They played daily in summer, and they had only t-shirts and hats and their gloves to bring, so they all walked.  Parents didn't have to drive or wait around.

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Don't be so sure about that.  Dd's ski team trains year-round.  They condition and roller ski in the off season.  There are even summer camps and clinic.  Luckily, it is all optional.  Dd has chosen to participate in other sports during the off season rather than team training and that is 100% fine with her coaches.  Also being a more individual sport, there is plenty of room and encouragement for newbies even up into high school and kids who only want to participate in season.

 

The whole thing does frustrate me.  Dd is 12.  She tried soccer at age 9 and quit almost immediately because they put her on a team with 4-5 yos.  She was considered far too old to learn the sport from scratch and I felt like her placement on that team was almost an implied "punishment."  She has also expressed an interest in hockey.  At age 12, I don't even have to ask if that is a viable option.  I know it is not.  If your kid is not on skates by age 4 around here, forget it.  Every local 12 yo I know of that pays hockey is traveling every weekend.

 

A fried of mine had the same issue with hockey.  She ended up putting her son in a recreational floor hockey league. Kids just show up at the community center, divide into teams, and play a game.  He really likes it.

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Don't be so sure about that. Dd's ski team trains year-round. They condition and roller ski in the off season. There are even summer camps and clinic. Luckily, it is all optional. Dd has chosen to participate in other sports during the off season rather than team training and that is 100% fine with her coaches. Also being a more individual sport, there is plenty of room and encouragement for newbies even up into high school and kids who only want to participate in season.

 

The whole thing does frustrate me. Dd is 12. She tried soccer at age 9 and quit almost immediately because they put her on a team with 4-5 yos. She was considered far too old to learn the sport from scratch and I felt like her placement on that team was almost an implied "punishment." She has also expressed an interest in hockey. At age 12, I don't even have to ask if that is a viable option. I know it is not. If your kid is not on skates by age 4 around here, forget it. Every local 12 yo I know of that pays hockey is traveling every weekend.

Exactly. The year round training is optional. But luckily for the kids who want to be that competitive, it's available. That's exactly why DS prefers sports like that (and running, and cycling, etc). Plus, it's all conditioning and his coaches have always been glad he gets so much cross training.

 

I would let her try hockey, you might be surprised. DS has a good friend who played for the first time at 12, and even a few kids at the high school level pick it up then and play for the team. I know that doesn't happen everywhere, but I think it's more common than not.

 

We know kids who decide to do a single sport year round, but it's never been because they have to (in order to be competitive) or because parents push it. In every case, in our experience, it's been child led (except when DS played hockey in Canada. That was a nightmare, watching the little kids being pushed by their parents when they clearly had no interest. That was heartbreaking). Of course, all areas are different and everyone has only their own experiences. I feel very fortunate that none of the sports cultures here are anything like some people describe.

 

Btw DS would be SO jealous of year round ski training! He would love that! :)

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Living vicariously? Not in this lifetime! I never dreamed of being a gymnast and I didn't even like soccer (until my dd started to play.) I prefer books and being cozy at home--I'm not athletic in the least and don't plan to be :lol:

 

These are the sports my kids chose and love. They love the challenge and the competition, and let's face it, the hanging out with friends. For gymnasts, they NEED the 15+ hours a week or they have a great chance of injury due to lack of conditioning. Soccer--the less time playing means they don't have the cardio to keep up. I think competition is good if it's balanced and healthy.

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Living vicariously? Not in this lifetime! I never dreamed of being a gymnast and I didn't even like soccer (until my dd started to play.) I prefer books and being cozy at home--I'm not athletic in the least and don't plan to be :lol:

 

These are the sports my kids chose and love. They love the challenge and the competition, and let's face it, the hanging out with friends. For gymnasts, they NEED the 15+ hours a week or they have a great chance of injury due to lack of conditioning. Soccer--the less time playing means they don't have the cardio to keep up. I think competition is good if it's balanced and healthy.

 

 

^ This!!  You want to know why I put Rebecca in gymnastics when she was 3?  Here you go:

 

1. She was a really active kid

2. I thought it would suit her personality.

3. They took 3 year olds.

 

I never once thought I'd be traipsing around the Southeast with my 12 year old, going to 7 gymnastics competitions within 3 months.  I never took gymnastics myself.  But Rebecca took to it immediately.  This is her sport, her thing.  She eats, sleeps, and breathes gymnastics.  We're not pushing her, she's dragging us!

Edited by Mommy22alyns
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I think early specialization is a recipe for early burnout and risks repetitive stress injuries. You really need coaches who are good with conditioning and careful with growing bodies.

 

I remember Cal Ripken Jr expressing concern about this years ago. His father, also a baseball program, encouraged a newvspirt every season. Baseball was only spring in his home.

 

When I was in high school some athletes were permitted to do a team sport and track. They were typically the very best and didn't go to track practices, just came to meets when the other sport didn't conflict. I think some people did this with cross country too.

 

I think it's very important to ask who is driving the train when a child gets very specialized. If he's getting his parent up at 4:30 am to drive to the rink all is probably good. If mom has to drag him away from anything to get to practice, then maybe it's time to evaluate how much time should be devoted to the pursuit.

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^ This!! You want to know why I put Rebecca in gymnastics when she was 3? Here you go:

 

1. She was a really active kid

2. I thought it would suit her personality.

3. They took 3 year olds.

 

I never once thought I'd be traipsing around the Southeast with my 12 year old, going to 7 gymnastics competitions within 3 months. I never took gymnastics myself. But Rebecca took to it immediately. This is her sport, her thing. She eats, sleeps, and breathes gymnastics. We're not pushing her, she's dragging us!

Exactly! Quite frankly, I'd be happy to slow down.

 

BTW, I noticed your daughter is competing L7, the same as mine. We all must be in it for the long haul....

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I think early specialization is a recipe for early burnout and risks repetitive stress injuries. You really need coaches who are good with conditioning and careful with growing bodies.

 

I remember Cal Ripken Jr expressing concern about this years ago. His father, also a baseball program, encouraged a newvspirt every season. Baseball was only spring in his home.

 

When I was in high school some athletes were permitted to do a team sport and track. They were typically the very best and didn't go to track practices, just came to meets when the other sport didn't conflict. I think some people did this with cross country too.

 

I think it's very important to ask who is driving the train when a child gets very specialized. If he's getting his parent up at 4:30 am to drive to the rink all is probably good. If mom has to drag him away from anything to get to practice, then maybe it's time to evaluate how much time should be devoted to the pursuit.

 

I wonder too though whether we should assume that because the child wants to do it, it is a good thing for her?  Kids can, just like adults, feel the pressure of expectations, or get caught up in the excitement or sense of belonging, and they aren't necessarily the most competent to really think about the risks or what they are giving up.  Or - maybe more to the point, whether that competitiveness and drive is something that will lead them to a healthy, happy life.  There are some advantages to being competitive and driven, but like a lot of marked personality traits, sometimes it needs to be moderated. 

 

An extreme example I can think of is Lais Souza - she went to the top of her chosen sport which means being very focused and driven, but in her early 20s was too old to compete and had really serious degeneration of her knees.  She was recruited for a new ski sport, and ended up in a serious accident, even though many friends and family has expressed reservations.  But what I wonder - and it's probably impossible to answer this question - is why was making it to the top of her "chosen" sport not enough?  Where, in the long run, was that competitiveness going to take her - to a happy place? How is it that pursuing her sport to the point that she had significant physical disability in her early 20s going to serve her in the long term?  What she ever really given the emotional tools, or relational tools, to step back and make any other decision than to compete?

 

I think it's great that kids find something they love, and want to follow it, but I think they don't always have the tools to decide when that is a good thing or when it isn't.  And plenty of kids IME think one thing is "their thing" mostly because of limited experience as well.  If the only way you've seen to play hockey is super-intense, and you've never had the opportunity to play really recreationally, how would you know that could be just as fun?  Or that a weekly dodgeball game might instead of another hockey game might be just as fun?

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You might double check to see that there are no other recreational leagues in your area that might require less time.

 

LOL, two practices on weeknights and a game on the weekend for about 8 weeks is all I can take but I think it stays the same for my ds this spring - he will be playing U15 on what is typically a lower-level team within that age group.  We doubt he will play in high school.  (He will be only 13 but has been playing up a level to stay with a particular coach.)

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This thread definitely is making me feel a little defensive. OP, I don't think that a 10 week season of lacrosse for 11-13 is too intense with 5 practices a week. If you look at 2 days for conditioning, 2 days for skill work, and 1 for a scrimmage/game experience, it seems pretty reasonable. It is not very long. For example, summer swim league here (which is definitely rec level) has five practices a week with a meet all day Saturday for 10 weeks.

 

I wanted to respond to a few things.

1. Parents living vicariously through their kids. Yup, happens in sports. But it also happens in music, drama, dance, academics. It is a hazard of parenting. Parents can also go the other way. If their childhood was overscheduled, they may refuse activities for their kids.

2. Multiple sports take money and time. Lots of both usually and many people can't manage it. We once had all five kids in two or more sports. I fully respect that other people do not want to do that or can't do that.

3. Multiple sports are most valuable up to the middle school level. Then, some level of specialization begins to happen. Sometimes this is based on love of a sport, sometimes on genetics, sometimes on money. Sometimes basic scheduling winnows the sports down.

4. Team sports are different from individual sports. It is not usually helpful to lump them together. Football players have more opportunities to try different things, than say Level 7 gymnasts.

5. If you have a kid who wants to specialize, and they are middle school or older, respect that. It may be just who they are. Parents don't always know best. If your kid wants to quit sports at that age, respect that as well. My middle school kids just wanted to be heard and understood.

 

If you want rec teams that require a smaller time commitment, start one. Or start a drop-in game. Also, if only one sport is on the table, play hard. Learn to juggle, ride a unicycle, go rock climbing or hiking, jump rope, etc. That will definitely give you the advantage that a second sport gives.

 

But really, all parents of athletes are not crazy, stupid or shortsighted. It gets tiring hearing that we are.

 

 

 

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Good question.  When DD was young (5-6-ish) she took a gymnastic camp at a serious gym (the same gym that trained Gabby Douglas).  It went great!  Then we signed up for a once per week gymnastics, and it also went great.  And then they wanted twice and week, to rise to 3...4..5..  You get the picture.  We quit and found something else; we were just in it for fun at that point.  It's the same now with swimming, but DD wants to swim. 

 

There are recreational sports out there, but you have to look far and wide to find them. Upward has recreational basketball for boys through 8th grade and they are pretty widespread through the USA, so check them out.  Also, city leagues for swimming are usually recreational and low-key.  The YMCA is another great option for low-key sports, but expensive to join. 

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I wish in our area recreational sports and competitive sports were separated.  We live in a large population ares so there are definitely families (sometimes parents, but honestly the kids themselves too) that are serious about playing/competing in their chosen sport(s).  However for families that just want to do it for fun - one or two practices and a local game a week that ends at about school age.  Around here rec sports are almost all highly competitive with a lot of traveling to compete.

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I actually find the opposite here. Way more rec programs that are just for fun. My kids do swim team, soccer, basketball and golf at various times in the year. My oldest is a good swimmer and I wish there was a more competitive program locally for him for the future (righr now we're good with the causal rec program). The soccer program my youngest is in does have a rec division and a competitive division for all ages. He does rec for now, we'll switch him if he ever chooses that.

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This thread definitely is making me feel a little defensive. OP, I don't think that a 10 week season of lacrosse for 11-13 is too intense with 5 practices a week. If you look at 2 days for conditioning, 2 days for skill work, and 1 for a scrimmage/game experience, it seems pretty reasonable. It is not very long. For example, summer swim league here (which is definitely rec level) has five practices a week with a meet all day Saturday for 10 weeks. I wanted to respond to a few things. 1. Parents living vicariously through their kids. Yup, happens in sports. But it also happens in music, drama, dance, academics. It is a hazard of parenting. Parents can also go the other way. If their childhood was overscheduled, they may refuse activities for their kids.2. Multiple sports take money and time. Lots of both usually and many people can't manage it. We once had all five kids in two or more sports. I fully respect that other people do not want to do that or can't do that.3. Multiple sports are most valuable up to the middle school level. Then, some level of specialization begins to happen. Sometimes this is based on love of a sport, sometimes on genetics, sometimes on money. Sometimes basic scheduling winnows the sports down.4. Team sports are different from individual sports. It is not usually helpful to lump them together. Football players have more opportunities to try different things, than say Level 7 gymnasts.5. If you have a kid who wants to specialize, and they are middle school or older, respect that. It may be just who they are. Parents don't always know best. If your kid wants to quit sports at that age, respect that as well. My middle school kids just wanted to be heard and understood. If you want rec teams that require a smaller time commitment, start one. Or start a drop-in game. Also, if only one sport is on the table, play hard. Learn to juggle, ride a unicycle, go rock climbing or hiking, jump rope, etc. That will definitely give you the advantage that a second sport gives.But really, all parents of athletes are not crazy, stupid or shortsighted. It gets tiring hearing that we are.

Well said. :)

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I actually find the opposite here. Way more rec programs that are just for fun. My kids do swim team, soccer, basketball and golf at various times in the year. My oldest is a good swimmer and I wish there was a more competitive program locally for him for the future (righr now we're good with the causal rec program). The soccer program my youngest is in does have a rec division and a competitive division for all ages. He does rec for now, we'll switch him if he ever chooses that.

In our experience, opportunities came when we really, really needed them. Not all of them are kid centered, not all of them are perfect, but amazingly they do (for us) exist. It took a lot of searching and a lot of persistence, but they are out there. I hope you'll find the same, when the time is right. :)

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Admittedly I get very excited about my kids participating in choir or drama. But then neither are high pressure or unrealistic.

See, I wonder why the perception is different (not singling you out here) for sports? My kid could NEVER participate in choir or in a play, and he wouldn't want to compete in a mathalon or geography bee (even though he would rock it), yet those seem acceptable while athletics somehow do not. In general. And somehow it doesn't seem to be put on the parents when a kid challenges himself in robotics or coding, yet "it's because parents!" Is the rally cry when a kid wants to push himself in a sport. I'm not singling anyone out, I'm just musing. As a very non-athletic, non competitive parent of a competitive athlete, it's just beyond humorous to me that somehow I must be pushing him, but also that he should just be "running around" because that would be "better" for him somehow. Or that he doesn't know what he needs or wants. Who says that to kids who love chess or who spend their time writing novels?

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See, I wonder why the perception is different (not singling you out here) for sports? My kid could NEVER participate in choir or in a play, and he wouldn't want to compete in a mathalon or geography bee (even though he would rock it), yet those seem acceptable while athletics somehow do not. In general. And somehow it doesn't seem to be put on the parents when a kid challenges himself in robotics or coding, yet "it's because parents!" Is the rally cry when a kid wants to push himself in a sport. I'm not singling anyone out, I'm just musing. As a very non-athletic, non competitive parent of a competitive athlete, it's just beyond humorous to me that somehow I must be pushing him, but also that he should just be "running around" because that would be "better" for him somehow. Or that he doesn't know what he needs or wants. Who says that to kids who love chess or who spend their time writing novels?

 

Well the choir and drama I mention are not comparable.  Practice is one time per week for an hour during the school year.

 

I don't think all parents push.  I guess what people are saying is that a lot of parents want it to be serious?  I don't know.  I shied away from sports early on because I didn't want my kids involved with something that required several hours of practice per week. 

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