There are benefits to a moderate amount of club sports, but, as I have said before, sports specialization can be detrimental for youth sports and the children who participate in them.
Over the past three decades, sports specialization for children and teens has exploded, becoming more focused, intense and expensive. It has been estimated that club level sports is a $7 billion industry. On every corner, there is a sports performance/enhancement company waiting to help take your child to the “next level.” The sports performance industry is not inherently bad, but it has created some monsters. Anyone who owns some cones and a couple of ladders can tout himself as a “personal performance trainer” despite having no educational background to support his self-proclaimed expertise.
And more doesn’t necessarily mean better. With the increased intensity comes a price – often in time and money. In some cases, the child’s interest in the sport, or even their physical well being, can be put in peril. Parents are having to make calendars to keep up practice, training and tournament schedules. The families are having to plan vacations around travel sports season (I know, I’ve done it). The amount of money being sunk into it is astronomical. In addition, overuse injuries in youth athletes has significantly increased in the past 20 years.
Sports psychologists have found three main reasons kids compete in youth sports: to have fun, learn skills and acquire competency, and to make friends. But we, as parents have been guilty of focusing on advancement through wins and losses, rather than concentrating ondestroyed that. Instead of focusing on skills and enjoyment. That is not beneficial for our kids or for the sports in which they participate.