According to the Stop Sports Injuries campaign, 70% of kids quit playing organized sports by age 13. That is a shocking statistic. What can we do to keep young kids from quitting sports?
I think we should change our priorities in youth sports. It is time we stop pushing our kids to win at all costs. Youth sports should emphasize fun. Parents and coaches need to make fun, not winning, a priority.
Our drive to win can manifest in many ways.
• A soccer coach wants to win, so he adds more practices and longer ones, despite the players being more and more tired.
• A youth baseball coach needs to win so that parents bring their kids to play for him, so he starts his one or two good pitchers over and over.
• A parent pushes his son or daughter to play through pain.
• A parent pushes her daughter to train more outside of formal practices, at the expense of schoolwork and friends.
Success in professional, college and high school sports does require hard work and commitment. On the other hand, a serious injury can derail those dreams. And they will never come true if the child quits playing sports altogether.
It’s time we focus on making sports fun for kids again.
Do you think we focus too much on winning and performance? What can we do to make or keep sports fun for our kids?