How to be a good youth sports parent

KENTUCKY (04/30/15) — Extracurricular and summer season sports leagues keep thousands of children occupied. Youth sports promote physical fitness and teamwork while helping children acquaint themselves with sportsmanship and camaraderie.

The Journal of Sports Medicine says three out of four American families with school-aged children have at least one child playing an organized sport. While many kids play just for recreation, others play competitively.

Sports are meant to be sources of enjoyment for children, but parental pressure and poor adult behavior on the sidelines can make kids reluctant to compete. Parents who behave poorly may inadvertently pass on bad habits to their children or cause kids to prematurely abandon their athletic pursuits. The following are a few tips for parents who want to encourage their kids’ passions for sports in positive ways.

  • Show respect for coaches and officials. Parents should not act like they are the final authority on calls or how team members should play. Respect should always be shown to coaches and referees.
  • Let your child have fun regardless of his or her performance. Too often parents get swept up in how their children are performing when the goal for young athletes should be to enjoy themselves. Resist the urge to focus on performance and focus instead of whether or not your child is having fun.
  • Recognize college scholarships may not be in the cards. Although some children are destined for athletic greatness, many will not play sports after high school. Pressuring older children to improve their performance in the hopes of landing college scholarships can make the little time they do have to play their favorite sports less enjoyable.
  • Take cues from the child. Children are often great indicators of parental behavior at sporting events. Parents whose children seem unenthusiastic about mom and dad attending their sporting events may be trying to tell you they don’t appreciate your behavior at the games.
  • Provide constructive criticism. Early coaching and practice with parents can give kids a leg up on the competition. But keep your advice constructive. Parents who become pushy or force constant practices can make sports unenjoyable.
  • Place emphasis on fun and learning skills. Find out what the kids hope to accomplish by playing sports and help them to achieve those goals. Focus on being supportive rather than emphasizing winning, as doing so can help children view sports participation in a more positive light.

If children seem to have lost interest in sports, parents can ask why in an effort to make sports fun again or encourage other pursuits. Many sports now require year-round participation, which can cause burnout in some youngsters. Sometimes a brief break and some fine-tuning may be all that’s needed to rekindle a child’s passion for sports.

Source: “How to Be a Good Youth Sports Parent | SurfKY.com.” How to Be a Good Youth Sports Parent | SurfKY.com. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.


How much water do athletes really need?

ROCHESTER, Mich. –

An Oakland University associate professor says her research shows that some athletes may be over hydrating.

Dr. Tammy Hew-Butler studies exercise science and says a lot about what athletes have been told about dehydration is wrong. Too much water or fluids can actually be dangerous.

Hew-Butler said sodium is critical in blood because it dictates the size of cells. If you have low blood sodium, cells swell and lungs can fill with fluid. In extreme cases, the swelling can occur in the brain, which can be fatal. To further illustrate, Hew-Butler used the example of filling a balloon (meant to represent a cell) with too much water to the point that the membrane gets thinner, weaker, and eventually breaks.

By measuring athletes vitals such as temperature, blood, urine and sweat, Hew-Butler said she’s discovered that bodies regulate sodium on their own. If over hydration occurs, the body dilutes sodium.

Hew-Butler will be submitting her findings to two medical journals.

Source: “How Much Water Do Athletes Really Need?” ClickOnDetroit. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

 


COLUMN: Drinking water can save your life, health

By RITA HODGES

It’s plentiful, it’s easy to find, it’s satisfying, it tastes good . . . and it can be a life saver.

Water-whether from expensive designer bottles or straight from the tap-is a part of daily life. It’s also the first line of defense when it comes to preventing serious heat-related medical conditions, according to Dr. Carol Rice, Texas AgriLife Extension Service health specialist.

The body needs a certain amount of fluid intake to balance what it uses. During the heat of summer, the body gives off a lot of its water supply as perspiration. You have to be able to perspire to maintain a balanced temperature. You need to drink a lot of water if you perspire a lot in order to avoid heat-related problems.

The three most common of these medical problems are:

• Heat cramps: symptoms include dizziness, headache and cramping, usually in the muscles of the legs but sometimes in the arms or abdomen. Treatment is to rest in a cool, shaded area and slowly drink about a half-cup of cool water every 15 minutes. Then lightly stretch and massage the affected muscle.

• Heat exhaustion: symptoms include feeling tired, weak and dizzy; headache, nausea with possible vomiting, and heavy perspiration with moist-feeling skin. Again, rest in a cool, shaded place, preferably lying down with feet raised 8 to 12 inches. Loosen clothing and slowly drink cool water, about a half-cup every 15 minutes. Place cool, wet cloths on the forehead and other areas of the body.

• Heat stroke: symptoms are similar to those of heat exhaustion except the skin is hot and dry, and can be red and flushed. The person might even become delirious and unconscious.

Although heat cramps and heat exhaustion are common summertime conditions and can possibly be self-treated, the same is not true for heat stroke, according to Dr. Rice.

A heat stroke is a life threatening situation. Call an ambulance and transport the person to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Prevention of these heat-related conditions is preferable to treatment, and the best prevention is water. Drink lots of water, even more than you think you need, when the weather is hot and humid. Water is the best liquid you can consume.

Drinking a gallon of liquid a day is recommended for people who are not in an air-conditioned environment and when the outside temperature is above 90 degrees. Adults and children who are outside in the summer heat need an adequate supply of cool drinking water on hand. If you drink a glass of water about every 20 minutes when you are playing or working outside, this should be sufficient (unless you have excessive sweating).

However, not all fluids are created equal, when it comes to combating summer heat problems. Do not drink beer or other alcoholic beverages, or drinks containing caffeine, because these can make the problem worse. These drinks can contribute to fluid loss rather than replacement.

Do not attempt to increase fluid retention by taking salt tablets either. Most Americans get too much salt in their diet.

Wear light-colored, loosely-woven clothing. Cotton is the best fabric for absorbing moisture and keeping the body cool. Wear a hat to shade your head.

If possible, avoid outside activities during the heat of the day-between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. If you are required to work outside, take frequent breaks and drinks of cool water.

Exercise during early morning or early evening, when the temperature is lower and enjoy water sports and/or cooling showers whenever possible.

People who live without air-conditioning are advised to keep cool by:

• using fans;

• opening windows for cross-ventilation;

• keeping drapes closed on the sunny side of the home;

• keeping indoor cooking to a minimum;

• visiting cooled public buildings; and

• taking frequent cool baths or showers.

Older people and those with certain medical conditions-such as diabetes, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and Parkinson’s disease-may be more sensitive to heat. Keep a watchful eye on loved ones and neighbors with hot, humid conditions.

When it comes to heat-related problems, prevention is far better than treatment, especially when the best treatment is as simple as drinking ordinary, everyday, cool, clear water.


Senate passes student concussion bill without opposition

By SETH RICHARDSON

A bill setting guidelines for how and when students can return to both the athletics and academics after suffering a concussion passed the Senate on Thursday.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 7, which would put in place post-concussion protocols. It would create a concussion oversight team based on a school district’s resources, outline who can clear a student to return, and require districts to have plans in place at different athletic venues.

The bill passed by a 41-0 vote.

Raoul said he was happy this version of the bill passed because it goes beyond athletics when dealing with head injuries.

“For years, with concussions, we focused on return to play without focusing on return to learn when they’re equally as important,” he said.

Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, originally sponsored the legislation, but Raoul took over as chief sponsor after both of his children suffered concussions earlier this year.

Head injuries have been in the spotlight lately with several high profile deaths of professional athletes, including the suicide of former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson. Duerson’s son Tregg helped lobby in support of the bill while it moved through committee on Tuesday.

Concussions can have both immediate and lingering effects, including an increased risk for dementia and epilepsy later in life. Kotowski said the bill passing was a huge step forward in protecting students from these effects.

“We want to make sure kids are safe when they participate in athletic activity and in the classroom, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive,” he said.

The Illinois High School Association supports the measure. Raoul said he thinks he’s alleviated any opponents the bill previously had.

The bill now moves to the House. Raoul and Kotowski said they expect it to pass easily.

Source: Richardson, Seth. “Senate Passes Student Concussion Bill without Opposition.” The State Journal. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.


Senate passes student concussion bill without opposition

By SETH RICHARDSON

A bill setting guidelines for how and when students can return to both the athletics and academics after suffering a concussion passed the Senate on Thursday.

Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 7, which would put in place post-concussion protocols. It would create a concussion oversight team based on a school district’s resources, outline who can clear a student to return, and require districts to have plans in place at different athletic venues.

The bill passed by a 41-0 vote.

Raoul said he was happy this version of the bill passed because it goes beyond athletics when dealing with head injuries.

“For years, with concussions, we focused on return to play without focusing on return to learn when they’re equally as important,” he said.

Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge, originally sponsored the legislation, but Raoul took over as chief sponsor after both of his children suffered concussions earlier this year.

Head injuries have been in the spotlight lately with several high profile deaths of professional athletes, including the suicide of former Chicago Bear Dave Duerson. Duerson’s son Tregg helped lobby in support of the bill while it moved through committee on Tuesday.

Concussions can have both immediate and lingering effects, including an increased risk for dementia and epilepsy later in life. Kotowski said the bill passing was a huge step forward in protecting students from these effects.

“We want to make sure kids are safe when they participate in athletic activity and in the classroom, and the two aren’t mutually exclusive,” he said.

The Illinois High School Association supports the measure. Raoul said he thinks he’s alleviated any opponents the bill previously had.

The bill now moves to the House. Raoul and Kotowski said they expect it to pass easily.

 

Source: Richardson, Seth. “Senate Passes Student Concussion Bill without Opposition.” The State Journal. N.p., 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.


Five things you should know about Asthma

(AP)

FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ASTHMA

* Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath.

* It can’t be cured, but can be controlled with asthma preventer and reliever medication, and a personal asthma action plan.

* People can get it for the first time later in life and shouldn’t dismiss or confuse symptoms as simply due to `old age”.

* Deaths in Australia have dropped from 964 in 1989 to 389 in 2013, but people still need to be vigilant.

* Some risk factors and triggers for adult onset asthma include obesity and environmental pollutants like active and passive tobacco smoking.

Source: Press, Australian Associated. “Five Things You Should Know about Asthma.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.


Women more likely than men to have ongoing memory problems after concussion

By HONOR WHITEMAN

A new study led by researchers from Taiwan finds the effects of concussion may differ between men and women, with women experiencing more persistent working memory impairment.
As shown in these brain scans, women showed less working memory activity than men more than 2 months after concussion.
Image credit: Radiological Society of North America

Concussion, also referred to as mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), is defined as a temporary loss of normal brain function as a result of a head injury. Symptoms can include headache, sleep impairment, fatigue, poor coordination, loss of memory, poor concentration and changes in mood.

While the majority of people fully recover from concussion within 3 months, around 10-15% continue to experience complications.

Increasingly, studies have investigated the long-term effects of concussion and have produced some worrying results. In February 2013, for example, a study found concussion can cause abnormal brain wave activity and poor memory decades after injury, while another study identified damage to the brain’s gray matter in patients with concussion 4 months after injury.

What is more, studies of amateur and professional athletes – who are most prone to concussion due to their involvement in contact sports – have indicated that concussion is more common among female athletes than male athletes.

According to lead author of this latest study, Dr. Chi-Jen Chen, of the Taipei Medical University Shuang-Ho Hospital and the Chia-Yi Hospital – both in Taiwan – women are also more likely to seek medical attention for persistent symptoms after concussion.

“We started to wonder whether there might be differences in MTBI outcomes between men and women,” says Dr. Chen.

Persistent reduction in working memory activity among women with concussion

For their study, recently published in the journal Radiology, the team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze the brain activity of 15 men and 15 women with concussion as they performed working memory tasks, as well as the brain activity of 15 male and 15 female controls.

Dr. Chen says the team focused on working memory – the brain system responsible for processing and storing short-term information – because working memory impairment is a common complaint after concussion.

“Since working memory is important for a wide variety of cognitive skills, compromised working memory could have significant effects on everyday life,” adds Dr. Chen.

All participants underwent fMRI 1 month after injury, and follow-up fMRI scans were conducted 6 weeks later. The working memory tasks included a digit span test, which assesses the ability to remember a sequence of numbers, and a continuous performance test (CPT), which measures an individual’s sustained and selective attention.

From the first set of fMRI scans, the researchers found that – compared with the control participants – men showed an increase in working memory activity, while women demonstrated a reduction in working memory activity.

At follow-up fMRI scans, the working memory activity of men was on par with that of the control participants. Women, however, demonstrated an ongoing reduction in working memory activity, known as “persistent hypoactivation,” indicative of continuous working memory impairment.

What is more, women with concussion were found to have lower scores on the digit span tests than women in the control group.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Chen says:

“These findings provide evidence that female gender may be a risk factor for working memory impairment after MTBI, If so, more aggressive management should be initiated once MTBI is diagnosed in female patients.”

Dr. Chen adds that since fMRI has the ability to monitor working memory activity in the brain, it could be added to treatment strategies for women with concussion, though he stresses further research is needed to confirm the team’s findings.

While popular notion holds that strict rest is the best treatment for concussion, a study reported by Medical News Today in January claims it may actually do more harm.

Source: Whiteman, Honor. Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.


Appropriations Committee to vote on concussion bill

By BRIAN SPYROE

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Today lawmakers in Connecticut will take on your child’s health and safety. The Appropriations Committee is set to vote on a concussion bill.

Concussions are a hot button issue around the country and the CDC estimates more than 3.5 million athletes end up with a concussion every year

House bill 67-22 would require coaches to make information available regarding concussions. That information would have to be given to players, their parents and guardians. The goal is to reduce the number of concussions here in the state.

The Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on the bill later today. Connecticut has some of the strictest laws when it comes to concussions and young athletes.

One athlete who knows about it all too well — Casey Cochran. He was a starting quarter back for the UConn football team before he announced last year that he was ending his career because of multiple concussions. Since then he has been outspoken about head injuries and the effects they can have, especially on a young athlete.

Cochran, along with lawmakers and members of the “Connecticut Commission on Children” and the “Parents Concussion Coalition of Westport” will hold a press conference this morning on the matter in Hartford to show their support for bill 67-22.

Source: Spyroe, Brian. “Appropriations Committee to Vote on Concussion Bill.” WTNH. N.p., 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.


Diabetes in play: High school athletes don’t let it stop them

By KRISTINE DENHOLM

At a camp three years ago when he was 12, wrestler Zach McCauley’s blood sugar level dropped. He says he hadn’t passed out yet, but was dozing in a corner. The coaches hadn’t shared the information McCauley had diabetes, and one saw him “sleeping.”

“One of the coaches started throwing Post-it notes at me, saying, ‘This isn’t nap time!’ But my brother was there, and he said, ‘He’s a diabetic, he’s not napping.’” They ran to get the athletic trainer, who gave him juice immediately. He felt better quickly, spared from going unconscious.

That incident is the only troubling one varsity wrestler McCauley, 15, recalls, as he manages life with diabetes, a disease that affects how the body uses blood sugar (glucose) and can cause serious health problems. As an athlete, “everything just takes an extra step,” he says.  Pricking his finger several times a day, he monitors his blood glucose. He enters on a monitor what food he’s eating, such as carbohydrates, and takes needed insulin from a pump attached to his body.  He disconnects the pump during matches.

Larry Cooper, a licensed athletic trainer for Penn Trafford High School (Harrison City, Pa.), and chair of the secondary school committee of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, said he’s seen more high school athletes with diabetes compared to the past.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of athletes who are insulin-dependent, he said. Penn Trafford now has five athletes with diabetes.

Parents and kids with diabetes are unafraid of competitive sports, as they may have been 20 years ago, he adds. “People have realized diabetes isn’t a debilitating thing, you can still remain very active.”

The statistics back up what Cooper has seen. According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the number of U.S. youth with type 1 diabetes (T1D) — juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes — has increased 21% from 2001 to ’09. Of the 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes, 1.25 million have juvenile diabetes.

“Data suggests type 1 is increasing worldwide,” says Dr. Joseph Wolfsdorf, an endocrinologist and director of the diabetes program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Wolfsdorf advises his patients to “learn how to take care of their diabetes, so they can resume their sports and athletic activity.”

But he shares the message that it requires “extra effort, tasks that have to be done for diabetic youth athletes to be safe and able to control blood sugar properly. It’s not an easy undertaking. It takes learning, understanding, knowing your body, food, monitoring, but I truly believe it’s possible. I’d never say to a young person, ‘Now that you have diabetes, you’re an invalid. You can’t participate in sports.’”

He agrees exercise is good, yet requires a “high degree of understanding of how rigorous activity affects an individual’s blood glucose [BG] levels. The student athlete has to know how to adjust insulin doses appropriately to avoid extreme high or low levels.”

Cooper, of Penn Trafford, adds communication among athletes, parents, school nurse, athletic trainer and coaches is vital.

McCauley, a freshman at Grayslake North High School (IL), who in eighth grade took third at the USA Wrestling Cliff Keen nationals and was named a USA Wrestling Youth All American, checks his levels an hour — and also 15 minutes — before his match. Then, he checks afterwards.  He keeps seven bottles of apple juice in his bag.

“My teammates are thinking, ‘What do I have to do to beat this person, and I have to also think, ‘what is my blood sugar at?’”

Last year at a regional tournament vying for first place, he lost. He came off the mat dizzy, stumbling. He checked and was low, at 52. “Is that the reason I lost? No, I don’t want to make excuses. But I beat that same kid at sectionals the next week.”

“Grayslake North is wonderful with how they help Zach do his sport with diabetes. The trainers are all tuned in and available during each practice if there’s any issue,” says his father, Tom McCauley.

Zach McCauley was diagnosed at 7, after losing 17 pounds within a few months. They took him to the hospital, thinking frequent urination meant a bladder infection.  Diagnosed with T1D instead, the family quickly learned about diabetes, giving him 6 shots a day. After a year, he got an insulin pump and “it helped a lot.” He doesn’t let insulin dependence hinder him:  He wakeboards too.

“There’s an advantage when diagnosed young — it becomes normal,” says Christopher Rucas, a spokesman for JDRF.

Track standout Kate Hall, 18, of Casco, Maine, was diagnosed at age 10. She felt sick, “emotional,” and was excessively hungry and thirsty.

“I remember staying at my grandparents one day, and I would just eat all day, and my grandmother was like, ‘What’s wrong with her?’ I was really skinny, like 50 pounds at 10.” Her parents researched, then took her to the hospital, where they confirmed T1D diabetes. She gave herself her first shot, learning about needing insulin to stay alive.

Hall tried injections, then tried an insulin pump she disconnected for sports.

“It had the tubing, and it would always fall off if I was running, or if playing soccer or basketball. It wasn’t so bad if it was a soccer game, it was only an hour, but at track meets? It got really difficult because of all my events … you don’t want to have it off for a long time, because then you’re not getting [insulin]. You could go really high [blood sugar] really quickly, so that’s when we decided to switch.”

At 15, she tried a tubeless pump; now she credits this pump, the OmniPod, for being easy for her. Usually taped to her hip, she wears it 24/7, including at meets, so it delivers insulin continually. She has a wireless meter, for entering foods and calculating insulin. She changes the pump every three days. According to a spokesman for the brand, it is safe for contact sports.

“I have a 16-year-old swimmer who uses that,” says Wolfsdorf, who notes the tubeless pump is waterproof.  He warns that because pumps can cost $6,000 to $7,000, “you can’t have a pump [with tubing] on your body if you are in a contact sport — considerable risk of damage in a collision.”

Athletes who use traditional pumps often disconnect the tubes during sports. Since they’re not receiving insulin for those minutes, the time the sport takes is critical. This can be managed successfully, like in McCauley’s case.

Athletes also must be cognizant how their particular sport affects blood sugar. Ice hockey, for example, has bursts of exertion which may cause blood glucose to rise with adrenaline surges.

Hall and McCauley say constantly considering foods, blood glucose and insulin made them more disciplined, which translated well to athletics.

What would they suggest to other young athletes with diabetes?

Hall, who will study kinesiology at Iowa State, wants to inspire others. “I know kids that are almost embarrassed about having diabetes — they’re afraid of what others think of them, afraid of being judged …. but if you let people know, ‘Hey it’s cool,’ they’ll ask you a bunch of questions … it’s cool for people to know who you are.”

McCauley, an accelerated science student, says aspiring youth athletes should not let diabetes stop them from playing competitive sports.

“In sports, there’s nothing you can’t do … I’m guessing people told (diabetic) Ron Santo he couldn’t play pro baseball. I’m guessing people told Jay Cutler he couldn’t play football. As long as they can manage it, they can do whatever.”

Source: Denholm, Kristine. “Diabetes in Play: High School Athletes Don’t Let It Stop Them.” USA Today High School Sports. N.p., 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.


4 Problems in youth sports today

By BRITTANY JONES

It is estimated that over 21.5 million children between the ages of 6 and 17 play team sports. This data collected by ESPN also found that 60 percent of boys and 47 percent of girls are already on teams by age 6.


Research done by ESPN also indicates the No. 1 reason a child quits a team sport is because he or she was not having fun.

Why are these children not having fun? With obesity being a health epidemic in America, shouldn’t adults be trying to ensure that the children are enjoying active participation in sporting programs?

Anyone who has sat on the sideline of a game, whether recreational or competitive, can understand why many of these children are not having fun. Simply put, the adults are ruining it for the children. Parents and coaches are taking all the fun out of sports.

Here are four problems youth sports programs are facing:

1. Focus is on winning, not on having fun.

Many have lost perspective about why team sports were started. The US Youth Soccer organization states its, “mission is to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth. Our job is also to make it fun, and instill in young players a lifelong passion for the sport.”

According to the Little League, which was established over 75 years ago, “The outcome of a game will never outlive the pride of belonging, the experience of playing, the friends and the fun.”

These mission statements are the reason so many parents, coaches and volunteers decide to spend time with children engaging in sports activities. Somewhere in the process many of these adults and children forget that having fun is more important than winning.

At the end of the day only 1 in 6,000 players will make it to the NFL; 1 in 4,000 will make it to MLB; and 1 in 10,000 will make it to the NBA, according to Statistic Brain. The odds of a child’s professional sports dreams are slim so parents should spend more time helping him or her enjoy the game while he or she is young.

2. Children’s performance becomes more important than their health.

USA Today reports, “In June 2011, a clinical report in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, warned that “stimulant-containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents.”

Have you witnessed parents on the sidelines giving their young children these types of energy drinks hoping to increase their performance? Are you guilty of providing your child with unhealthy options to boost his or her performance during a game?

While the financial costs of youth sports continue to rise, the threat of injury and not properly taking care of these young bodies is a much bigger concern. What price are parents willing to pay for their child to excel at the sport of his or her choice? Is the time these children spend training excessive based on their age?

Safekids.org reports that 1.24 million children were seen in emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. It also states that more than half those athletes injured continued to play in the game because they didn’t want to let their coach down or were afraid they would be benched.

We need to be more concerned about a child’s lifelong health instead of his or her (or a parent’s) temporary sports aspirations.

3. Specializing children too young.

According to a research brief prepared by John O. Spengler, “Sport specialization may be considered an intensive, year-round training in a single sport at the exclusion of other sports.”

Many youth sports programs begin training academy’s for children to develop their skills as early as 6 years old. If children don’t begin in these specialized training academy’s, parents worry their children will miss the opportunity to play competitive sports when the opportunity arises, many as early as age 9.

Research done by Spengler for the Aspen Institute Project Play determines, “Early sport specialization does not enhance the opportunity for long-term athletic success in almost all sports and may increase the risk for overuse injury and burnout.”

Children are being forced to “specialize” or pick one sport before they are even preteens. They rarely get an opportunity to experience numerous sports because coaches expect undivided attention to the sport they are coaching. The time and money commitments make it almost impossible for children to play more than one sport.

In an article published in The New York Times Paul Sullivan writes, “With travel teams and indoor versions of outdoor sports now in full swing, some former top athletes and even the coaches who feed parents’ obsessions are encouraging caution. The willingness to spend heavily — in money, time, emotion and a childhood — needs to be looked at more carefully, they say.”

4. Caring more about the game than the child.

In an article written by John O’ Sullivan, author of “Changing the Game,” he suggests six questions parents should ask themselves about their child’s sports experience:

1. Is my child having fun?

2. Does this game/league/event serve the needs of the children, or the needs of the adults?

3. Have youth sports become more important to me or my child?

4. Is there a way to get a similar experience in a less intrusive, less costly way?

5. What is my child learning from this experience, and does it match the values we are teaching at home?

6. Is our family keeping our priorities in order (family, church, school, vacations, sports, finances, commitments, etc.)?

One suggestion O’Sullivan has is to leave the child alone on the car ride home. If the child wants to talk about the game then let him or her bring it up. He suggests: “Many children indicated to me that parental actions and conversations after games made them feel as though their value and worth in their parents’ eyes was tied to their athletic performance, and the wins and losses of their team.”

Many of us enjoy cheering on our children from the sidelines. We love to see the sense of accomplishment they feel when they swing that bat and hit their first ball, score their first goal, or get their first basket. We love watching our children make a great tackle, or slide their way across the ice. Let’s all try to remember why we signed our children up for youth sports in the first place, it certainly wasn’t so we could all turn into nightmare parents and coaches. Or was it?

Source: Jones, Brittany. “4 Problems in Youth Sports Today.” 4 Problems in Youth Sports Today. N.p., 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.