I have blogged on this subject previously so please forgive any redundancy. However, the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) recently published guidelines for healthy sports training and participation and I wanted to share them with you. They are:
- Delay specialization as long as possible
- Train 1 sport max 8 mo/year
- Only 1 competitive team per season
- 2 days off from training each week
- Age (years) = hours/week training maximum
- Time away from sport (min 2-4 weeks) in between competitive seasons
I cannot overemphasize how important I think the above is. Sports participation is great–I think it is an essential element in the upbringing of almost all healthy children. However, we must ALWAYS focus on the real reasons: fitness, socialization and fun, cultivate positive personality traits like dedication, team work, fair play.
Remember that world class athleticism is so unique. Those in possession of that rare attribute do need to work hard if they hope to realize it’s potential. But if your child is not one of those singularly gifted individuals (few are) then you cannot create it in them by making them work more and harder, you are far more likely to cause injury, anxiety, and/or hard feelings between you and your child in that stubborn effort. And if you are the only one who seems to recognize your child’s great potential then it’s probably time for a reality check, Mom and Dad.
Also, as I’ve pointed out, it’s a fool’s errand to chase college scholarships earlier than high school years, and at any rate the only sports that offer full scholarships are football and men’s/women’s basketball–the “revenue generating sports” in college. All others mostly offer partial scholarships as best. So if one’s goal is to finance your child’s college education it’s much better to invest in stocks/mutual funds/529 plans as opposed to extra sports training. I’m not at all saying that paid training camps and private coaching is worthless, but rather that it’s purpose must be to improve your child’s performance to increase their enjoyment of the sport experience as opposed to being an investment in a scholarship to help pay for college. A good rule of thumb is if you have to talk your child into the extra training, if its your idea and not their’s, then it’s probably not such a good idea after all.
Please keep the above NATA guidelines in mind and call me with any questions regarding your child’s sports participation. Thanks for following.