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Summary of AAHPERD Presentation on Youth Sports

Summary of AAHPERD Presentation on Youth Sports

I was recently at the AAHPERD convention in Indianapolis attending some of the youth coaching workshops and presentations. I went to the “10 Things Youth Coaches Should Know” presented by Rick Howard and Jay Coakley. They were able to combine research and their own experience to convey certain areas that coaches should be aware of, as well as parents!  For someone who has an extreme case of adult ADHD and the fact that this was the last lecture of the convention for me, I was totally focused on their presentation! Here is a sample of the “10 Things…”

Peak Performance Occurs after Maturation. This statement really emphasized the need for kids to multi-sport until the age of 15-16. They need sampling of various sports to see which ones they liked and were best suited for. Yet, unfortunately we still see 11-12 year olds playing one sport year round. Why? Players feel the pressure to only play one sport so that they can make the cut year to year. Parents support this as their social support group is typically the other parents on the team, and they don’t want to be cut from the group either. This brought u[p an interesting point that I had not considered. I always thought the parent’s pressure to focus on one sport was more based on the pursuit of college scholarship money. However, the other motive is purely selfish on the parent’s part: they need friends and will use their children’s sport’s experience to get them.

The Privatization of Youth Sports and the Impact on Economic Class. This sounds like a mouthful but very easy to understand. With Parks and Recreations being the first to get the ax during budget deficits, youths are dependent on private clubs and or leagues to join in order to play. The costs of these clubs prevent many poorer families and kids from participating. Therefore, the richer kids get better at sports while the poorer kids don’t get to play. And when you combine this with all of the studies with childhood obesity, poorer kids tend to be the obese ones.

Youth Sports are Gravitating Towards an Adult Sports Model. The Adult Model being one based on winning, more competition and little to no practice. The model we should be focused on is a Child Based Model where it’s all about Fun, and learning the Fundamentals. I wrote on the blog last year about the trend that kids are no longer fundamentally sound because they play too many games and don’t practice enough. I’m glad it wasn’t just my imagination, but am disappointed that this is the current trend in youth sports.

So as coaches and parents, what can we do? Is there anything we could do to offset/impact the Parks and Recs being closed? Not sure… However, we can support kids playing multiple sports, not putting pressure on kids to specialize and realize that it’s their experience, not ours. And of course, focus on the fundamentals while making it fun, kid-centered and hopefully, encouraging the kids to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.

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