While sport has the ability to improve both physical and mental health, along with the development of youngsters, it is hugely important that children do not become overwhelmed by what is facing them. So, just when does kids sport become too much?
Research has shown that children who participate in sport are likely to have greater physical activity levels during adulthood, however with many youngsters today becoming obsessed with training as they aspire to be like their heroes, the question surrounding when whether sport has become too much too soon is a common one.
Children’s bodies are not designed for massive amounts of physical activity, with participating in sport too frequently potentially putting unnecessary stress on them, which can ultimately lead to both muscular and skeletal issues in the long run. So, while your kid getting picked for the school team is great, be sure to consider whether they have the capacity to take part.
It is commonly understood that kids and weight training should not go hand in hand, however there is little condemnation when it comes to overtraining in other areas, which can be detrimental both physically and mentally. The “10,000 Hour” theory is often discussed when youngsters make the grade in the world of professional sport, however recent research has suggested otherwise, with analysis of over 88 studies into deliberate practice finding that this accounted for just an 18% different in sporting performance.
In simple terms, this suggests that in the event of a child possessing the talent required in order to reach an elite level of sport, excessive training on its own is unlikely to be the difference between “making it” and not. Factors including the quality of coaching, competition, mentality and injuries have just as much, if not more impact.
Taking this into account, the question surrounding when does sport become too much is perhaps a little easier to answer. Those involved in youth sport will be familiar with pushy parents, who are potentially living through their children, attempting to help their kid reach the big time. Parents should instead invest their time and effort into ensuring that youngsters enjoy themselves when playing sport.
Instead of continuously training in a particular sport, whether it be football or tennis, children should ideally break their usual timetable up with something a little different, whether it be a bike ride or a trip to the cinema with friends. Teams or clubs who do not cater for such a lifestyle are unlikely to be the best environments for kids to grow up in.
Parents and coaches must ask themselves whether it is them or the children who are pushing for additional training sessions, whilst also considering whether such investment will be worth it in the long run. With youngsters being under increasing pressure in today’s society, it is important that this can be reduced where possible, not added to.
There are regularly theories introduced as to just how people can increase their longevity, whether it be diet, rest or workload. However, recent research has shown the participating in team sports can add years to your life, adding yet another positive to this form of exercise.
While skill, dedication and physical attributes are of key importance when it comes to reaching the top of the sporting ladder, there are certainly other factors that are often not discussed, including when athletes were born.