The student news site of Fenton High School

Starting athletes young is detrimental to their development

June 6, 2018

Fifty years ago, neighborhood kids came together to play a game of baseball for fun; emphasis on the fun. Nowadays, kids are joining select travel teams just at seven years of age for intense training, not for the fun. This upsurge of specialization in sports among young children in recent decades has presented a multitude of negatives in the early stages of life.

In America, on average 71.6 percent of kids from ages six to 12 are either involved in a team or individual sport on a weekly basis according to the Aspen Institute Project Play. If a child has three practices a week with additional games or tournaments, that is an average of 10 hours a week training for their sport all year round.

All of the hours put into athletics are no longer for pure enjoyment, but only for the hope of success. The goal of playing at a collegiate level consumes the child’s life. Soon, all the child knows is practice, games and tournaments instead of experiencing significant moments with friends or family.

In most cases, when kids commit to intense sporting programs at such young ages, it is forced upon the child by their parents. All around us, parents are trying to live their glory days through their children. No parent wants their child, the individual that represents them the most, to have the most inadequate performance on the team. This leads to intense pressure and criticism inflicted by the parents on to their child, potentially causing altered relationships. Parents must let their children fall and get back up again, learning from their mistakes, without pushing them down further.

A majority of an athlete’s social life takes place at their training facility, and because of this, many friendships are built with teammates. Yet, these friendships are built in a highly competitive environment. Whether competing for the starting position or playing time, they are always competing with a teammate, a friend. Eventually, they begin to view that friend as a threat. This can lead athletes to have arrested behavioral development and in some cases become socially isolated.

Many athlete’s training in the same sport for numerous years lead the individual to become physically exhausted and just simply bored with the repetition, also known as burnt out.

According to the LTAD (long- term athletic development), specialized training with the intent of competing should not be implemented until age 15. With children now joining travel teams at the age of seven, they aren’t playing the sport in their earlier stages for fun, but instead for the intense training right off the bat which eventually leads one to become burnt out.

There is always going to be the risk of injury while playing sports, but that risk is dramatically increased in younger athletes.

On average, according to Medical News Today more than 3.5 million children age 14 and younger receive medical treatment for sports injuries annually. Imagine stretching a rubber band that is already partially ripped, it would snap easier. Essentially, that is what children are doing to their bodies and muscles. Overusing muscles year round while still developing is the recipe to disaster. For many athletes, these injuries are what concludes their short lived careers.

Overall, specialized training at a young age presents a multitude of downsides. Finding the perfect balance can prevent children from becoming burnt out, sustaining injuries and intense pressure and stress.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Fenton InPrint Online Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *