The Impending Crisis in Youth Sports
My most recent article for Breaking Muscle http://breakingmuscle.com/family-kids/the-impending-crisis-in-youth-sports talks about what many of us now know— unless we do something soon to fix youth sports, the downward spiral will continue. The downward spiral includes a too early focus on sports specialization, too much pressure on kids to win at all cost, and underdevelopment of athleticism, all of which disenfranchise too many kids from not only sports but from meaningful physical activity across the life span.
What Sports Experience Should We Provide?
All of the ingredients necessary to Fill the Talent Pool already exist! We know, as the figure below illustrates, that all positive youth development programs should include positive physical, social, emotional, and cognitive components, which are often referred to as developmental assets. The physical assets that helps kids improve all physical capacities have not been adequately developed in most sports programs.
It is the role of all youth sports parents, coaches, teachers, scientists, officials, and participants to take what we know about positive youth development and apply it to youth sports. To do that we must
- give kids developmentally-appropriate instruction in motor skill acquisition
- include proper strength and conditioning
- make it fun
- ask the kids for their input
- establish a youth sports model that includes all developmental assets, with emphasis on the elementary years
The importance of developing a long-term model that includes integration of skills across all sport platforms is crucial. Think of it like a terrific combination of physical education, sports, and play. Let’s give kids every opportunity to learn about movement, sports, and the social, cognitive, and emotional benefits that follow (if we purposefully include them in our programming). Only then can we truly Fill the Talent Pool.