Sports help children develop essential skills, such as working in a team, self-confidence, and resilience.
Sponsored youth sports programs, such as coaching and training, teaches student athletes the love of the game and how to challenge themselves in a friendly, safe environment. Not every athlete is going to play professionally and one aspect of youth sports is to manage expectations while still get the most fun and benefit from youth sports.
The Price of Youth Sports
The escalating cost of youth sports is a concern. Sadly, youth sports do not operate on a level playing field. There is intense pressure on families to get their student athletes the best equipment, the best training, travel to showcase tournaments out of town, and do everything they can to get their burgeoning professional athletes out there and their talent seen.
There is real pressure on parents’ budgets. Teams are now known to expect parents to pay a monthly payment plan. Some parents will spend thousands of dollars on name-brand training equipment and training camps, and as scouts more and more travel only to see showcase teams, youth sports have turned into a rich man’s game.
Balance this with the fact that fewer than 5% of high school athletes go on to play for a college team – never mind play professionally – and you’ll see that we tend to be somewhat impractical regarding the business aspects of youth sports.
Studies have shown that kids take a more practical view – they play sports to have fun until adults put sometimes undue pressure on them to turn professional.
Assessing the Developmental Benefits of Intense Youth Sports
Choosing to dedicate out-of-school time at the intensity and continuity required to be highly successful in a single sport is not to be taken lightly. This choice is often fueled by a teenager’s love for a sport, but it is also shaped by the enjoyment parents and coaches get from seeing their child succeed on the playing field. Before committing 100% to a grueling training regime in a single sport, weigh up the positives and negatives of doing so at such an important time in a child’s life.
Scholarships and Sponsorships
Don’t rest all hopes on a college scholarship. Though there are around 140,000 athletic scholarships available for Division I and II sports, the odds of receiving one is remote. For example, around 600,000 girls compete in high school track and field, and there are fewer than 5,000 scholarships.
Scholarships only average around $10,000. This drops to $8,000 for non-basketball and non-football sports. Athletic scholarships are usually renewed each year on a coach’s discretion, putting intense pressure on college athletes.
Getting the Most from Youth Sports
Aside from the obvious direct potential financial benefits that could arise from college sponsorship or professional play, there are other ways youth sports could help your teenager grow, ultimately helping them succeed in life. There are three elements to consider when assessing your child’s role in youth sports – balance, continuity, and intensity. Getting each of these aspects right is the real key to unlocking youth sports development training potential.
Studies have shown that children who spend time in multiple activities out of school – not just sports – get the most development out of their free time. The number of different extra-curricular activities is not important – forcing a child to take on too many different activities will simply spread them too thin – but it is important for them to have multiple outlets to be able to develop to their fullest.
To perform the best at youth sports requires a long-term commitment. Participation should be continuous – studies have shown that intermittent participation is not as rewarding as slow, continuous development over a number of years.
There’s no doubt that the amount of time children spend doing sports each work affects the outcome of their training. Those who spend more time training will improve faster, but there are no set rules to how many hours in the right intensity for your child at their level.
Youth sports are fun ways to build some key skills. Drop the pressure on your kids and get them to love the sport. Weigh up the financial cost of playing the sport and set realistic expectations. Finally, don’t wait to be discovered if you think you have a superstar on your hands – build a YouTube show reel and send it to coaches as a low-cost way to getting their attention.
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