Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wanted: True Athletes!

In the current youth sport culture children and their parents feel pressured to commit to one sport, and it's seemingly starting before kids have even reached puberty. I truly empathize with the dilemma faced by many parents. You only want to do what's best for your child and at least for now your child wants nothing more than to play their sport. They and you may be lead to believe that's what must be done to keep up with the competition and their friends.  It seems logical that if you and your child want to excel in a given sport/endeavor they should commit as many hours of training to it as possible.  However, this ignores the natural laws of growth and development.  As more children move away from playing sports for their school they are missing out on the influence of coaches and educators that are schooled in the art and science of youth development.

Unfortunately, many travel leagues are created and coached by former athletes with little background in youth development. They implement strategies and game plans that may have worked for them when they played but the problem is the kids they are coaching are not mini professionals they are children that are still developing physically, socially, and psychologically.  They are not prepared for the rigors of advanced sport competition. The cold hard truth is early specialization stunts overall athletic potential in our kids. Talent evaluators are starting to note the current generation is coming up short when it comes to athleticism!

I recently heard an interview with a Major League Baseball amateur scout and he said, "There are no shortstops left in America!" Just a quick note to those who may not be familiar with baseball, shortstop is a position that demands a overall athleticism to be played at a high level and the American amateur landscape is barren of multi-faceted athletes. Many scouts don't even waste their precious time evaluating shortstop talent in this country; they go straight to Latin America to scout for prospects.

The following story is from a man whom played and coached in the National Hockey League and now directs a league that scouts for amateur talent. I would encourage you to read the story as this man lends his valuable perspective on the fallout from early specialization: 

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