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Why are sports for kids so intense?


Ottakee
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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.

 

We've seen the aftermath of years of club swimming in our own family and our friends' families. There are too many American children, teens, and young adults who have the bodies of people 10-15 years older when it comes to joint health. The key is moderation and as Americans that's not a concept we are particularly fond of.

 

I can no longer count on one hand the number of people who've told us that they are doing everything right and their kid won't get injured only to have them call and ask how ds's shoulder surgery worked out because they are facing the same thing.

 

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We've seen the aftermath of years of club swimming in our own family and our friends' families. There are too many American children, teens, and young adults who have the bodies of people 10-15 years older when it comes to joint health. The key is moderation and as Americans that's not a concept we are particularly fond of.

 

I can no longer count on one hand the number of people who've told us that they are doing everything right and their kid won't get injured only to have them call and ask how ds's shoulder surgery worked out because they are facing the same thing.

 

 

This is so bizarre and so true. 

 

Oddly I sometimes struggle with doing something if I don't do it seriously or go all the way (for lack of a better way of putting it).  Anything else is a waste of time and money.  intellectually I know that is stupid, but I do sometimes feel that way.

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DS3 does Mommy/Daddy & me soccer.  It's a pretty low-key introduction and it's meant for 2-3 year olds.  The next level starts at 4 years old and expects the kid to be able to participate without a parent.  At our second meeting, we had a parent arguing with the coach because he thought his 2.5 year old was too advanced for the class and wanted her bumped up to the next level...  

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DS3 does Mommy/Daddy & me soccer.  It's a pretty low-key introduction and it's meant for 2-3 year olds.  The next level starts at 4 years old and expects the kid to be able to participate without a parent.  At our second meeting, we had a parent arguing with the coach because he thought his 2.5 year old was too advanced for the class and wanted her bumped up to the next level...  

 

BTDT.  I remember my kid that age in sports classes at the Y.  Some mother was going on and on to me about how she doesn't feel like her kid is learning real skills.  How will he manage in little league.  Etc. etc.  He was 3.  She wanted to know why they weren't playing real games.  Because lady, getting 2 and 3 year olds to play games is like herding cats.

 

That was such a turn off.

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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.

I have no doubt that a lot of parents have unrealistic expectations, but I'm sure that's true for all things. Anyone can take anything to extreme, you know? But that doesn't mean all sports parents do (again, totally not singling you or anyone out).

 

Eh. When DS was in public school for K and grade 1, his teachers totally thought I was "that mom" who pushed academics. The pushback, the refusal to give him what he needed, led us to homeschooling. I just think it's interesting that "meeting the child" is accepted on this board when it comes to academics, but mention sports and parents can get kind of kicked around. It seems in contrast to other areas where kids push themselves or excel.

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This is so bizarre and so true. 

 

Oddly I sometimes struggle with doing something if I don't do it seriously or go all the way (for lack of a better way of putting it).  Anything else is a waste of time and money.  intellectually I know that is stupid, but I do sometimes feel that way.

 

You aren't alone in your feelings.

 

Sometimes too, our kids become involved in sports we may not know that much about, so we go with the flow and don't ask questions.

 

During our second year of club swimming, my dd was moved to an elite squad. This meant that during the Christmas break, she was doing daily doubles with an assigned 2 mile run and additional push-ups and sit-ups between workouts which included both swimming and dry land. She was 12 yos old.  During the second week, one of the experienced senior moms took me aside and said, "Lisa, this is not okay."  My 5'3" dd weighed in at 102 lbs at the end with an 8 pound weight loss. The other mom had noticed it and I hadn't. Dd was dry-heaving on the runs. The mom who had given me the warning, pulled both her dds (one with a national ranking) a couple of months later and they went to a less competitive team.  A dear friend who had a dd that went to Olympic trials told me the level of workouts was standard if you wanted to be competitive. I ran with that and today I wholly regret that I was such a dumb ass and that it took us so long to learn our lesson - at an enormous cost.

 

The doctor's assistant that helped us on one off ds's last trips to the doctor for his shoulder was 25 yos and had had two surgeries thanks to gymnastics while growing up.  My doctor's son was a star quarterback in high school. At 28, it's cost him three surgeries. This doesn't happen to everyone one in sports; that's not my point. Sports are great - when done in developmentally appropriate amounts at the right age.  As parents, while we are involved, we see the glory, the awards, our child's passion, and maybe college money. We do not see years of pain and decreased mobility that does not go away.

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She had a "pre" meet last month, but the first biggie this weekend! What about yours?

 

 

She went last Saturday for her first one!  She's had a lot of coaching upheaval, so she hasn't gotten her giants yet, but she did manage a 9.45 on beam for gold!  Good luck to your DD!  I'd love to hear all about it and see videos or pics if you don't mind!

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I'll fess up to being a parent who put my too young kid in an older division.  He was 4 I think and they were required to be 5 or 6.  I can't remember.  It wasn't my idea though.  He'd been participating in a homeschool PE class, despite being too young for it.  He just tagged along with his brother who was enrolled.  The P.E. organizers were also doing a soccer program and asked if my youngest wanted to participate.  I jumped at it cause he'd been begging to play soccer.  Then I got the form and realized he was too young.  They told me to sign him up anyhow, they'd let him in because they had seen his level of physical ability and his ability to focus on the coaching.  He did wonderfully.  He's big for his age so you couldn't tell by looking that he was too young.  It was NOT a competitive program in any way, shape, or form.  He's 6.5 now and has played soccer every season since (with a different league because the other one was a 1 time thing).  He was also moved up into the older tennis class with my older son.  At that point it was all about ability to listen and focus which he had no issue with.  Physically they skills weren't different and the coach said he'd be frustrated with the younger kids who she had to herd like cats most of the time.  It worked out well.  Tennis didn't stick with either of them, only because of costs, but at some point he would have merged back into his proper age group with that.  Not all parents with younger kids in an older division do it to push their kids beyond their ability/needs/whatever.  

 

And you guys are scaring me with the swim stories! My son wants to be a competitive swimmer someday and I had thought it was a relatively 'safe' sport injury wise! 

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We are a family of swimmers and no swimming related injuries so far. In fact, in my dd1's class, we couldn't think of any shoulder injuries. Kids have gotten hurt in the weight room and some people have been out after appendix surgery or concussions sustained from horsing around at school.

 

Lisa's experiences are one end of the spectrum and ours are another, probably the stats are in the middle. Most shoulder injuries I know of are baseball related.

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She went last Saturday for her first one!  She's had a lot of coaching upheaval, so she hasn't gotten her giants yet, but she did manage a 9.45 on beam for gold!  Good luck to your DD!  I'd love to hear all about it and see videos or pics if you don't mind!

 

No way!!!! Giants have been my dd's issue too! Hoping she doesn't scratch this weekend.

 

And congrats to your daughter!

Edited by Georgiana D
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I'll fess up to being a parent who put my too young kid in an older division.  He was 4 I think and they were required to be 5 or 6.  I can't remember.  It wasn't my idea though.  He'd been participating in a homeschool PE class, despite being too young for it.  He just tagged along with his brother who was enrolled.  The P.E. organizers were also doing a soccer program and asked if my youngest wanted to participate.  I jumped at it cause he'd been begging to play soccer.  Then I got the form and realized he was too young.  They told me to sign him up anyhow, they'd let him in because they had seen his level of physical ability and his ability to focus on the coaching.  He did wonderfully.  He's big for his age so you couldn't tell by looking that he was too young.  It was NOT a competitive program in any way, shape, or form.  He's 6.5 now and has played soccer every season since (with a different league because the other one was a 1 time thing).  He was also moved up into the older tennis class with my older son.  At that point it was all about ability to listen and focus which he had no issue with.  Physically they skills weren't different and the coach said he'd be frustrated with the younger kids who she had to herd like cats most of the time.  It worked out well.  Tennis didn't stick with either of them, only because of costs, but at some point he would have merged back into his proper age group with that.  Not all parents with younger kids in an older division do it to push their kids beyond their ability/needs/whatever.  

 

And you guys are scaring me with the swim stories! My son wants to be a competitive swimmer someday and I had thought it was a relatively 'safe' sport injury wise! 

 

It can be a relatively safe sport and outside of the shoulder injuries, our family had a wonderful time with swimming. The discipline and motivation my youngest learned in the pool have served him well outside of the pool. Also, we started in the sport nearly 20 years ago. From what I have seen, even in our old club, things have been changing for the better.

 

I would encourage parents to really learn about the sport.  We were in a silver level USA Swimming club with nationally ranked swimmers. They were tops in the state - because they pushed so hard.

 

In hindsight, it would have been virtually impossible to hold Sailor Dude back on the swimming; he's that passionate about it.

 

My goal in sharing our experience isn't to scare anyone off of highly competitive sports, but I would caution parents to be aware that most sports also have a down side that participants, especially parents, are unwilling to acknowledge.  For the physical aspect, I would consider if I could look my pediatrician right in the eye and tell them exactly how much time my child was working out, the intensity level, the coach's training in injury prevention, and if you both are still smiling at the end of the conversation, then it's all good.

 

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Because every child is the next Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps and Derek Jeter according to their parents.  It is ruining the have fun part of sports.

 

We signed DD up for a learn to play clinic last summer.  DD was the only child at the clinic who had never played. All the rest of the kids were regular players on the team.  It ruined it for her.  She wanted to learn but  the learn to play clinic was only a skills clinic for the players.  Otherwise, we tend to stick to individual sports.  Less nastiness from the parents.

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We are a family of swimmers and no swimming related injuries so far. In fact, in my dd1's class, we couldn't think of any shoulder injuries. Kids have gotten hurt in the weight room and some people have been out after appendix surgery or concussions sustained from horsing around at school.

 

Lisa's experiences are one end of the spectrum and ours are another, probably the stats are in the middle. Most shoulder injuries I know of are baseball related.

 

I would say that you are lucky, but I would also suspect that you have a good coaching staff that understands injury prevention including overuse and age-appropriate intensity.

 

On a side note, Jen, it's been so great to see the swimmers here who have gone on to swim in college.  There is no college money in sailing, just some fairly wild adventures. :D

 

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My dss have played baseball for years.  And here is my take on it.

 

I think sports are great for kids  IF  your child enjoys it.  I have seen so many parents push their child to do better.  And I'm not talking about encouraging a child, (I am all for encouraging).  I am talking about signing them up for extra lessons, yelling & belittling them and in general making a child miserable. 

 

I have seen so many children that enjoyed baseball but were pushed so hard it sucked the joy right out of it.  I mean even major league ball players say "if you aren't having fun then you shouldn't play". 

Yes I know (believe me I know) sports take practice and hard work but there should be some joy in there.   

  

Drives me nuts too when coaches don't let every child play.  I have seen coaches leave 5yr olds on the bench the whole game.  Uh how are they ever going to learn if they don't get to play.  They are 5 playing a park league baseball game.  They are not in the World Series.  If they win great.  If they lose, that is part of life and will try again next game. 

 

Makes me angry when coaches and other parents yell at children for messing up.  There is a difference in raising your voice to be heard across the field than being hateful and demeaning. 

 

So if the child is happy and wants to do it ---GREAT   but if the child is playing to fulfill a dream of the parent -- I don't like that.

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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. 

 

There are some high-pressure choirs around here - it's like that dance mom show about who will get solos and such. 

 

I'm excited about my kids choir as well, and they are good enough to get a gold in the music festival and the director has high standards, but it is a nice place where even kids who can't sing at all are welcome. 

 

And they keep in mind that people have other things in their lives.  I think that might be a common difference with sport - it's not only time intensive - plenty of kids play piano an hour a day - but you have to take them somewhere at a particular time, which means it really affects the daily lives of the parents and even the other siblings.

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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.

That's sad. I don't know where you live but it sounds like you might live in a northern state. My daughter played basketball 3rd through 7th but had to quit after that because of knee problems. She had major leg surgery 3 months before she turned 16. Recovery took a full year followed by removal of plates and screws so she wasn't ok'd for sports again until a month after her 17th birthday. we were shocked when she expressed interest in learning how to play hockey. She didn't even know how to ice skate and had only gone once or twice in her life. We said if her surgeon ok'd or we would let her take skating lessons as well as "learn to play hockey".

 

I'll admit she looked a bit out of place being in a class of younger kids. The class was for kids 8-17. Not only was she the oldest by far but she is over 5-9 so she really stood out. She struggled so much at first. Even though she had previously played basketball I would not have called her athletic. But what she lacked in ability and experience she made up for with determination.

 

The manager from a high school girls' team noticed her and asked if my daughter wanted to play on her team. It was an open team that was made up of several high schools so there were no try outs but they played against other high school teams. In the beginning things were tough. She was by far the worst player since everyone had been playing at least 2-3 years-most more like 10+. She didn't give up and by the end of the year she caught up to a handful of girls. She didn't score but contributed a lot to the team in smaller ways like blocking shots or stealing the puck.

 

The following year she was too old for the team and she ended up playing for a women's 18+ team. Now she was the youngest on the team. Most were in their 30's or 40's with a few 20's. She did great and ended up being one of their top scorers. It gave her a lot of confidence and last year she found a 19U travel team to play on. She was back to being the one with the least experience but she had fun and improved so much. Again she started at the bottom and ended near the middle of the pack with girls who had been playing much longer. Her coaches loved her since she had so much knowledge of the game and tried so hard.

 

This year she is playing on a college hockey team! It's a club team but they play schools all over the upper Midwest. Most of the girls have been playing 10-15 years so my daughter doesn't get as much playing time but as the season has progressed she has really surprised her coaches. She is starting to get more playing time. She has found out what she is good at and the coaches love it.

 

Even though we wish she had started playing when she was a young child she has still be able to play. It hasn't been easy. She will never be a top player and at times looks a bit awkward on the ice but she loves it. We were really lucky that the right opportunities came along. I know in some northern states it might be tougher. Most of her teammates live in Wisconsin and Minnesota and have rinks in their high schools and back yards. It's very competive in those areas. She has a few teammates that could have played division 1 but decided to go this route instead so that they could still focus on studies. So maybe it is possible for your daughter to still play.

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You aren't alone in your feelings.

 

Sometimes too, our kids become involved in sports we may not know that much about, so we go with the flow and don't ask questions.

 

During our second year of club swimming, my dd was moved to an elite squad. This meant that during the Christmas break, she was doing daily doubles with an assigned 2 mile run and additional push-ups and sit-ups between workouts which included both swimming and dry land. She was 12 yos old.  During the second week, one of the experienced senior moms took me aside and said, "Lisa, this is not okay."  My 5'3" dd weighed in at 102 lbs at the end with an 8 pound weight loss. The other mom had noticed it and I hadn't. Dd was dry-heaving on the runs. The mom who had given me the warning, pulled both her dds (one with a national ranking) a couple of months later and they went to a less competitive team.  A dear friend who had a dd that went to Olympic trials told me the level of workouts was standard if you wanted to be competitive. I ran with that and today I wholly regret that I was such a dumb ass and that it took us so long to learn our lesson - at an enormous cost.

 

The doctor's assistant that helped us on one off ds's last trips to the doctor for his shoulder was 25 yos and had had two surgeries thanks to gymnastics while growing up.  My doctor's son was a star quarterback in high school. At 28, it's cost him three surgeries. This doesn't happen to everyone one in sports; that's not my point. Sports are great - when done in developmentally appropriate amounts at the right age.  As parents, while we are involved, we see the glory, the awards, our child's passion, and maybe college money. We do not see years of pain and decreased mobility that does not go away.

 

I think the bit I bolded is what trips a lot of parents up.  What gets heard is "this is what you need to do, this is what everyone does, to be successful."  Who doesn't want their kids to be successful or enough coaching to have a chance of winning? 

 

I think one of the things with sports may be that we tend to associate it with health and taking care of the body, but at the elite levels, that often isn't the case at all.  Constant pushing to get to a higher level, in human terms, can actually be the opposite, and becomes more of an issue over time.  To get to the top 50 years ago might have been perfectly compatible with a healthy body, but that has really changed in many sports. 

 

Unfortunately, that attitude seems to creep down to lower levels as well, even though it will only be the lucky and the genetically blessed who can get all the way to the top, the expectation of super-high performance later means the lower levels have to be comparatively higher as well, and be working towards the kind of training the elites will need.  So - it makes sense that the kids who are unlucky, or don't have the physical ability to go all the way, get weeded out by injury and ill-health.

 

That seems to be a significant difference with a rec league - its not that the kids don't want to improve their skills and fitness, or win the game.  It's that the goal of the training system is not to produce a high-level athlete.

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I have no doubt that a lot of parents have unrealistic expectations, but I'm sure that's true for all things. Anyone can take anything to extreme, you know? But that doesn't mean all sports parents do (again, totally not singling you or anyone out).

 

Eh. When DS was in public school for K and grade 1, his teachers totally thought I was "that mom" who pushed academics. The pushback, the refusal to give him what he needed, led us to homeschooling. I just think it's interesting that "meeting the child" is accepted on this board when it comes to academics, but mention sports and parents can get kind of kicked around. It seems in contrast to other areas where kids push themselves or excel.

 

Is it in contrast though?  I think you see some of the same issues here in discussions about things like early academics, or Tiger Mom type approaches to extra-curriculars like music.  Even discussions of some types of classical learning which promote a lot of rote memorization, or programs like Ambleside Online which seem to expect all kids to follow a very high level reading program (or else!)  People often criticize aspects of these things or the way some people use them.

 

With sports, part of the angst seems to be that the very competitive approach seems to coincide with difficulties finding other types of athletics. (Like, where rec leagues for hockey here used to be the norm, with maybe one elite team, that is now reversed.)

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I find it fascinating and somewhat sad that sports have changed so much.  I graduated high school in the early 80s.  Soccer really hadn't even gotten started yet.  Sports were competitive but nothing like it is today.  It seems like all the sports are year a round and if your kid doesn't play year around with the sport they chose then they will get little playing time or won't get to play at all.  

 

One of our Ds liked basketball and played for a league that did some traveling.  We were at a tournament and I was speaking to a group of parents.  I was amazed that many or ALL the parents were holding their kids back a grade so that there kid could be more competitive in basketball.  Really?  You are going to hold your child back a grade just for a sport?  I was blown away, but was told by several of the parents that it is what everyone does so you have to do it too, if you want to be competitive.  Wow...  I couldn't believe it.  Of course, we would never hold our kids back for sports, but there are many that do just that.

Edited by dallas050
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But really, all parents of athletes are not crazy, stupid or shortsighted. It gets tiring hearing that we are.

 

Yep, neither of my kids were sports types, but I still felt my hackles go up at the "pushy parents living vicariously through their kids" comments.

 

Mine were/are arts kids, but dance and theatre and choir required just as much commitment from the kid and support from us as is true for kids who are athletes. Starting around middle school age, the difference between the kids who were serious about an activity and the ones who were interested only in doing something recreationally a time or two a week became very clear.

 

And, let me say, there's not a thing wrong with wanting a recreational experience for your kid. For a few years, I wished really hard that there were less stressful options for certain things my kids enjoyed but didn't want to invest heavily in doing. There are some activities that offer that: dance is one. The studio my son attended for the three years before he went to college offers a small but very good program for kids who are serious about dancing. My son and his primary dance partner and a couple of others in the same age range spent anywhere from 15 - 20 hours a week at the studio. They prepared for and competed in three or four events a year, attended at least two conventions, performed at multiple events during the holiday season, etc. However, the studio also offers purely recrational classes for kids of all ages who enjoy dancing but don't want to devote that much of their lives to it. Those kids take a class or two a week and participate in the winter show and spring recital, and that's it.

 

My son, the serious dancer, knew from early on that he wanted to pursue musical theatre, which meant he needed to study music and acting as well as dance. From the time he was about 12, it required constant negotiation to figure out how to allocate his time. He sang with a fairly rigorous choir -- the kind that peforms at least monthly and tours every couple of years. For many of his choir mates, the choir was their primary extracurricular commitment. They took private voice and instrument lessons in addition to the weekly rehearsals, studied for music-related exams and medals, etc. When dance started ramping up for him, we talked about whether it was time to quit choir, but he ultimately decided that he would consciously step back his involvement, instead. For that particular activity, it was possible for him to "do the basics," meaning show up for rehearsals and performances, learn his music, sing well but not "rise through the ranks." He made peace with the fact that he would not be chosen to sing solos. It worked for him.

 

Similarly, while he loves theatre, he had to recognize that, for time time being, full-fledged productions had to be limited to certain times of the year. 

 

His activities ate our lives, but it was him pushing. Trust me when I tell you that there were any number of evenings when I would have greatly preferred to be at home having dinner as a family and many, many months when it was painful writing the checks to his dance studio and everyone else. 

 

However, being deeply involved in something he loved kept him (mostly) happy and sane through the years when so many teens run off the rails. It gave him a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to take school seriously (because he knew the first thing we would do if his grades slipped was to pull the plug on dance). 

 

Looking back, I'm grateful every day that we had the energy and resources to let him run with that passion. It helped him become who he is now.

 

So, if that kind of commitment doesn't work for your family, that's completely understandable. If you have a kid who doesn't have that kind of serious interest and wants extracurriculars that let him hang out with friends a couple of times a week, that's also cool.

 

But there is absolutely no reason to assume the worst of parents (and kids) who choose another path.

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Is he being enrolled by age or by grade?  My son is 13 and in the 7th grade.  He will play basketball for the school next month.  Practices are from 2:45-5:30 every weekday.  It's pretty intense.  At the rec level, though, they had one hour practices twice a week and 1 game on Saturday.  

If it's a competitive league, the coaches are there to teach them as much as they can in a short period of time.  If it's a competitive league, the practice time doesn't seem excessive.  If it's a rec league, I think it's too much practice time.      

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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.

 

I am having my 14 yr old son try ice skating lessons. I don't have any delusions about him being on a hockey team, but everyone here knows how to skate so I wanted him to have the basic know-how in case he was invited to free skate or something. He is in a class with two 6 years old even though he technically should be in the very beginner class with his 8 y/o brother (that has two kids in diapers in it). They had mercy on him and let him in the next higher class and give him extra help. He had his second lesson this week and was still pretty shaky, and two moms on the bench with me openly laughed at him! I mean, they were saying "Oh, it's painful to watch! Oh, I'm sure he never wants to come back - I sure wouldn't if I was him!" and tons of giggles. I had to move out of earshot or else I was going to make a scene. Bless his heart, he did the whole lesson, and when he was done he said he thought it went pretty well and might want to continue with lessons after he's finished with the current set. He understands that skating is harder to learn when you have a higher center of gravity and gosh darn it, he is learning persistence even if he won't ever be a graceful skater.

 

He was a late swimmer, and our pool mercifully had a teen learn-to-swim lesson series that got him started. He continued with regular lessons after that until they kept pushing the butterfly stroke which was never going to happen. No one needs to learn butterfly unless they are joining a competitive team, and I would rather have him work on endurance and maybe get a passable dive.

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Parents living vicariously through their kids has been our experience.

In some cases, yes, this is true.  My husband coaches 2 competitive basketball teams.  Our teams play 3 weekends a month and practice 4 hours a week.  The parents have to pay for all the fees and get up early on weekends and travel to games.  Our kids are in the 8th grade.  If we offered most of these kids more playing opportunities, they'd take it.  Our parents are poor and tired most of the time, but they do it because the kids are passionate and they want to support what the kids love.  Once in a while, we will have someone approach us about their kid playing on the team and the parents will state that they want the kid to play- never once mentioning it's what the kid wants to do.  My husband doesn't take those kids on the team.  It's an investment all-around and the kid should love what he/she is doing.

I don't like what happened to youth sports.  It didn't used to be like this.  I remember kids playing all the sports when I was in school.  Nobody "specialized" in the 5th grade.  It's become super competitive to even make a school team due to how good a kid can become at a sport when playing it year round.  Something seemed to happen in the mid-90s.  These "clubs" realized their was money to be made and promoted the year round sports to parents.  Most parents want to give their kids opportunities to succeed at what they love, so they participate.  For parents whose kids want to play competitively, it's a no-win situation.        

Edited by VeteranMom
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I am having my 14 yr old son try ice skating lessons. I don't have any delusions about him being on a hockey team, but everyone here knows how to skate so I wanted him to have the basic know-how in case he was invited to free skate or something. He is in a class with two 6 years old even though he technically should be in the very beginner class with his 8 y/o brother (that has two kids in diapers in it). They had mercy on him and let him in the next higher class and give him extra help. He had his second lesson this week and was still pretty shaky, and two moms on the bench with me openly laughed at him! I mean, they were saying "Oh, it's painful to watch! Oh, I'm sure he never wants to come back - I sure wouldn't if I was him!" and tons of giggles. I had to move out of earshot or else I was going to make a scene. Bless his heart, he did the whole lesson, and when he was done he said he thought it went pretty well and might want to continue with lessons after he's finished with the current set. He understands that skating is harder to learn when you have a higher center of gravity and gosh darn it, he is learning persistence even if he won't ever be a graceful skater.

 

He was a late swimmer, and our pool mercifully had a teen learn-to-swim lesson series that got him started. He continued with regular lessons after that until they kept pushing the butterfly stroke which was never going to happen. No one needs to learn butterfly unless they are joining a competitive team, and I would rather have him work on endurance and maybe get a passable dive.

 

Kudos to your ds!!! That takes a heck of a lot of courage and self-confidence. I really hope he continues and enjoys skating. And I would have said something to those thoughtless moms at the rink. Clearly they've not tried a new physical sport in a while - if ever. I think I would have invited them out to join the class and see how well or poorly they did. 

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One of our Ds liked basketball and played for a league that did some traveling.  We were at a tournament and I was speaking to a group of parents.  I was amazed that many or ALL the parents were holding their kids back a grade so that there kid could be more competitive in basketball.  Really?  You are going to hold your child back a grade just for a sport?  I was blown away, but was told by several of the parents that it is what everyone does so you have to do it too, if you want to be competitive.  Wow...  I couldn't believe it.  Of course, we would never hold our kids back for sports, but there are many that do just that.

This is pretty common around here, too.  I've seen parents start their kids a year late in school, anticipating that it would give their kid an advantage in sports later on.  My sons typically have to play against kids who are in the same grade, but 1-2 years older than them.  1-2 years of additional height on a boy is huge in basketball.       

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I am having my 14 yr old son try ice skating lessons. I don't have any delusions about him being on a hockey team, but everyone here knows how to skate so I wanted him to have the basic know-how in case he was invited to free skate or something. He is in a class with two 6 years old even though he technically should be in the very beginner class with his 8 y/o brother (that has two kids in diapers in it). They had mercy on him and let him in the next higher class and give him extra help. He had his second lesson this week and was still pretty shaky, and two moms on the bench with me openly laughed at him! I mean, they were saying "Oh, it's painful to watch! Oh, I'm sure he never wants to come back - I sure wouldn't if I was him!" and tons of giggles. I had to move out of earshot or else I was going to make a scene. Bless his heart, he did the whole lesson, and when he was done he said he thought it went pretty well and might want to continue with lessons after he's finished with the current set. He understands that skating is harder to learn when you have a higher center of gravity and gosh darn it, he is learning persistence even if he won't ever be a graceful skater.

 

He was a late swimmer, and our pool mercifully had a teen learn-to-swim lesson series that got him started. He continued with regular lessons after that until they kept pushing the butterfly stroke which was never going to happen. No one needs to learn butterfly unless they are joining a competitive team, and I would rather have him work on endurance and maybe get a passable dive.

 

Man, that's painful to read!

We're gearing up for beginner skating lessons (2 figure, 2 hockey) at 5, 8, 12, and 13.  I would put money on the 5yo taking up intense hockey, but the rest will probably dabble.  

I don't think I'd have the strength to move my seat.  Actually, I *know I don't have the strength, because I've already  interrupted jerkfaces and asked them to quit talking smack about my kid(s) in other sports.   :cursing:  :glare:  :001_tt2:

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Kudos to your ds!!! That takes a heck of a lot of courage and self-confidence. I really hope he continues and enjoys skating. And I would have said something to those thoughtless moms at the rink. Clearly they've not tried a new physical sport in a while - if ever. I think I would have invited them out to join the class and see how well or poorly they did. 

 

I have, ahem, a history of confronting people and it has never gone well so I am trying to just let stuff go. I really wanted to ask the moms if they had something constructive to say or if they really just wanted to make fun of a kid for trying his best. If my son had heard what they were saying you can bet I would have gone mama bear, but I settled for a glare and removing myself from where I could hear them. We'll see what happens next week though.

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I have, ahem, a history of confronting people and it has never gone well so I am trying to just let stuff go. I really wanted to ask the moms if they had something constructive to say or if they really just wanted to make fun of a kid for trying his best. If my son had heard what they were saying you can bet I would have gone mama bear, but I settled for a glare and removing myself from where I could hear them. We'll see what happens next week though.

 

Great self control! 

 

Ice skating is one of those activities that looks so easy, and yet is very, very tricky. You may think you're hot stuff, but try to skate in figure skates when you're used to hockey skates, or vice versa, or heaven forbid speed skates!, and everything falls apart. Then you realize how extremely sensitive the balance point on the different blades actually is - especially with your arms swing around trying to stay upright. ;)  

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My kids play "proffesional" tennis, aau basketball, run track. They love it, and most of the things are truly effortless to them (those are my good genes ;) )They train a lot and they enjoy competing.

 

I think the general idea is to train as many hours a week how old are you e.g. 10yo can train 10hours per week, 11yo - 11hours etc. I know plenty of kids in junior tennis to train 5-6hours a day 5-6 days a week. Now that is excessive - injuries and burnout happens in most cases. My husband believes in developing an athlete, thus we play multiple sports with tennis being the main one. For now.

 

Edited to add: in our area, you can play highest level aau basketball, or you can play "rec" basketball. Kids may not be as athletic or as skilled, and schedule is much easier to manage. One can play lower level junior tennis on your club team, or travel for sectional and national tournaments. Really a lot of options for every level.

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She went last Saturday for her first one!  She's had a lot of coaching upheaval, so she hasn't gotten her giants yet, but she did manage a 9.45 on beam for gold!  Good luck to your DD!  I'd love to hear all about it and see videos or pics if you don't mind!

 

I'm happy to report my DD overcame her fears and competed all 4 events! She didn't place on bars, but just the fact that she composed herself and pulled off both giants really impressed me. It was such a great day :D

 

If I knew how to attach a video file, I would...

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My boys were gymnasts. Our lives revolved around their gym schedule and we made serious family sacrifices for gymnastics. It was my idea in the first place. I could see my small boys longing to be trained and coached, and I wanted that intense physical training for them. I was thinking twice a week for an hour. I had no idea... I was told, as they got older and the gym time increased, that gymnastics was one of those things that is pretty boring unless you are good enough at it to do the harder things and that took time. I could see this for myself, actually, just by watching the practices. I could also see that it would be dangerous to do the funner things unless you had conditioned properly, and how much time that took. I got to watch the coaches from other gyms at the meets. So did my sons. We knew we were at a comparatively easy going gym, one that would let us take summers off and didn,t mind that my boys didn,t like the actual competing part, didn,t emphasize weight or levels but was still getting the gymnasts where they wanted to be. I wasn,t that enthusiastic about it but I could see that my boys really craved that level of physical activity and the intensity, so we did it. I,d do it again, if I could do it with the same coaches. I worry about the wear and tear on their bodies, but I can think of a lot of things they could have thrown their energy and intensity into that would have left bigger scars. Anyway, with gymnastics, anyway, I understand the intensity, understand the need for it at a younger age than one might think, and I was grateful that we had put those hours in when my boys hit their teen years. The two younger ones put the same sort of hours into various sports or working out when they were in college, just so they could think (the need for this seemed to ease off early in their twenties somewhere). They are agitating to get me to push my sister to start her own boys in a sport "early enough that it will be fun for them later". I expect this all depends on the sport, though, and the opportunities within a community? The fun if you aren,t good part? Mine weren,t particularly good at gymnastics, just good enough to do the fun stuff like giants, but I can see how in a team sport it would be rather dispiriting to be letting one,s team down, which I think is what my boys have in mind thinking of their small cousins. That and the discipline and coordination and strength.

 

Nan

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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.

 

 

The girl I know who got into Harvard on a sports scholarship and is now in their team was an all-round athlete: she was on the school's not very good field hockey team but also played lacrosse and ran cross country.  In her mid-teens she got into rugby, found she had some talent and tried out for the under 19 national team.  She played for that team for a couple of seasons, as well as the national under 19 lacrosse team, and that was enough for the scholarship.

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I have no doubt that a lot of parents have unrealistic expectations, but I'm sure that's true for all things. Anyone can take anything to extreme, you know? But that doesn't mean all sports parents do (again, totally not singling you or anyone out).

 

Eh. When DS was in public school for K and grade 1, his teachers totally thought I was "that mom" who pushed academics. The pushback, the refusal to give him what he needed, led us to homeschooling. I just think it's interesting that "meeting the child" is accepted on this board when it comes to academics, but mention sports and parents can get kind of kicked around. It seems in contrast to other areas where kids push themselves or excel.

As the mom of a highly driven sports minded child, yep. If my son was as driven in music, or math it would be applauded, but he loves sports and I am viewed as pushy.

 

Reality, I try to reign him in and make sure he does not hurt himself.

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My dss have played baseball for years. And here is my take on it.

 

I think sports are great for kids IF your child enjoys it. I have seen so many parents push their child to do better. And I'm not talking about encouraging a child, (I am all for encouraging). I am talking about signing them up for extra lessons, yelling & belittling them and in general making a child miserable.

 

I have seen so many children that enjoyed baseball but were pushed so hard it sucked the joy right out of it. I mean even major league ball players say "if you aren't having fun then you shouldn't play".

Yes I know (believe me I know) sports take practice and hard work but there should be some joy in there.

 

Drives me nuts too when coaches don't let every child play. I have seen coaches leave 5yr olds on the bench the whole game. Uh how are they ever going to learn if they don't get to play. They are 5 playing a park league baseball game. They are not in the World Series. If they win great. If they lose, that is part of life and will try again next game.

 

Makes me angry when coaches and other parents yell at children for messing up. There is a difference in raising your voice to be heard across the field than being hateful and demeaning.

 

So if the child is happy and wants to do it ---GREAT but if the child is playing to fulfill a dream of the parent -- I don't like that.

Substitute piano or violin and parents on this board have pushed, signed up for extra lessons and so on and others applauded them for making them stick it out because it is good for them.

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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?

With sports and dance, kids risk injuries if they push themselves too hard too fast. With academics, kids risk burn out. With musical instruments, kids risk injuries as well but we seldom hear severe injuries from over practicing. The only writers and artists I know as friends are the kind who forget to eat or sleep sometimes so no long term injuries to worry about.

 

There are pushy parents here for Spelling Bee, Geography Bee, AMC10/12 (math), First Lego League, VexRobotics, Tech Challenge, Intel Science Talent Search, Siemens Competition too. Some parents keep a long list of academic competitions and sign up their kids for as many as possible.

 

Aquaintenances have asked my bookworm DS11 to exercise. They see him sitted for hours and asked whether he has enough exercise time. People do comment about bookworms, chess lovers, any kid who looks stuck in a chair too.

 

Here YMCA and the Parks & Rec has recreational sporte but there is little variety and quite expensive.

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With sports and dance, kids risk injuries if they push themselves too hard too fast. With academics, kids risk burn out. With musical instruments, kids risk injuries as well but we seldom hear severe injuries from over practicing. The only writers and artists I know as friends are the kind who forget to eat or sleep sometimes so no long term injuries to worry about.

 

There are pushy parents here for Spelling Bee, Geography Bee, AMC10/12 (math), First Lego League, VexRobotics, Tech Challenge, Intel Science Talent Search, Siemens Competition too. Some parents keep a long list of academic competitions and sign up their kids for as many as possible.

 

Aquaintenances have asked my bookworm DS11 to exercise. They see him sitted for hours and asked whether he has enough exercise time. People do comment about bookworms, chess lovers, any kid who looks stuck in a chair too.

 

Here YMCA and the Parks & Rec has recreational sporte but there is little variety and quite expensive.

 

This reminds me of a girl I knew in high school who went on to win the National Spelling Bee. Her father pushed her so hard academically that (if I remember correctly) she was exhausted and under so much pressure she fell down the stairs. She did, of course, go on to do amazing things.

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Substitute piano or violin and parents on this board have pushed, signed up for extra lessons and so on and others applauded them for making them stick it out because it is good for them.

 

Hmmmm.   I don't know about that.  My dd is a gifted musician and an unusually driven athlete.  This is a big reason why we homeschool.  It allows her to spend more time on both.  I get far far FAR more comments and backlash about her musical interest than athletic.  No one bats an eye at the hours of practice and travel for her sport.  She spends less time weekly on music and is nowhere near the amount of time where I would be concerned about overuse injury but I am still grilled often about it.  So much so that I do all I can to avoid discussing dd's musical pursuits with anyone other than people we are close to.  There are also a lot of (incorrect) assumptions that we are pushing dd academically just because we homeschool.  Never mind that she is a slightly-above-average student studying at the same level as her same-aged peers in the local public school.   

 

There are people who are going to poo-poo anything.

 

I don't feel the theme of this thread is why sports are so intense for SOME children.  The question is why sports seem to be so intense all around so that there seems to be an ever-decreasing space for older, less-experienced, less-committed, or less athletically included children to participate.  I do not see this same trend in the arts.

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I see the trend in arts around here. Anything non-school related is not really open to novices. There are a few exceptions, but really, if a tryout requires a head shot, I am thinking this is not really just for fun.

 

It is hard to start late in anything.

 

On a side note, I had a fellow swim parent complain to me that her child was unhappy with the competitive nature of the team. Specifically, the girls were too driven. I admit I was annoyed because my dd1 had just made her first Trials cut and I thought that this was a veiled complaint about competitive girls (mine in particular). Sports are competitive. Driven, focused, ambitious, and competitive girls get to be that way on a competitive team. No less than boys (which she had no complaint about).

 

She was not willing to "step down a level" to a recreational team. Of which there are several. Sometimes the problem of "why are sports so intense" is more complicated than just having rec level teams available.

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Music is hard to find a middle ground in, except for private lessons. School (and homeschool) programs for kids in the 10-14 age group tend to be for beginners, and the kids who have taken lessons for years often have no place in them. Community programs tend, by that age, to be pretty competitive. The kid who wants to play, say, grade 3-4 music in an ensemble is likely to have a hard time finding such an option.

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DS is involved in a travel sport where quite a bit of time, effort, and money is spent. I'm kind of laughing at some replies here, because I can assure you neither I nor my husband are living vicariously through him. We also aren't counting on this sport to eventually pay off via scholarships or the like. Our son is, and always has been, a high-energy, intense, competitive child. When he's not doing things pertaining to his sport, he's got a similar intense focus on other activities. If he wasn't playing his sport, he'd either find something similar or probably be a miserably bored, unchallenged kid.

 

I guess I should be thankful that there are organized rec opportunities for many sports as well as other activities in my area. They do cost too much IMO but they are available. I'm also thankful we have a network of friends for my kids that will go to the street or the park to play pick-up games.

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