My family lived in the South for four years. Being Midwesterners, certain things made us remember that we weren’t from around there. The use of a plural you (as in, “you all”). The prevalence of pimento cheese. The obsession with SEC football.
But one thing caught me off guard — the number of baseball teams for younger athletes. A friend’s son was in elementary school, aged nine or ten, and it was common to play on one baseball team in the fall and a second in the spring. And many of those boys played on a third team in the summer. I thought about the statistics for Tommy John surgeries and how pitchers even in high school are having the surgery. I wondered if the parents were thinking about the physical repercussions of so much repetitive motion at such a young age. And the mental effects.
I’m not immune here. By high school, I was dancing 12 hours a week, and I had my first knee surgery at the age of 16. (And while I tried my hand — or foot — at sports, I was not very good.) But I hope that parents and coaches think about the advice of our experts below and consider the short- and long-term consequences of limiting kids to one sport at such a young age.
Why are younger athletes burning out of sports?
There are many reasons to sign your kids up for sports teams. They’ll build strong muscles and bones by being active, make friends and learn how to get along with others, and become more confident as they improve on the field. But many kids burn out and quit playing before they graduate from high school. Why?
“Parents and coaches need to remember that the primary goals of playing sports when younger are to improve motor skills while learning how to be a part of a team,” says Mark Salandra. A certified strength and conditioning coach who works with many student athletes as the founder of StrengthCondition.com (a Physiquality partner vendor), Mark often sees parents (and coaches) that emphasize competition over fun.