Youth sports myth: Personal trainers are a necessity to be excellent
Friday, January 06, 2017
When my son was 10 years old, multiple people told me he was a good athlete. I didn't know they were serious. I thought they just wanted me to respond with comments about how great their kid was.
Is there really such a thing as a 10-year-old athlete? My definition of an athlete is a person who starts for a varsity high school team in his/her chosen sport. No 10- or 12-year-old does that.
Think about your top five athletes. Are any of them 12 years old? By putting that label on children at such a young age, we certainly have a tendency to believe they are special.
It is important that adults realize children have a natural pace of physical and mental development. Trying to speed it up through a personal trainer or by playing one sport year round to get to the mythical 10,000-hour level of excellence comes at a cost.
We're getting to the point where specialization has robbed children of the basic fundamentals of running stopping, throwing, kicking and catching. Are we now saying you have to have financial resources to play youth sports? Is that not entitlement? How do poor children get to play at the higher levels?
Children should go outside and play pickup games for fun. Coping, sharing, playing, socializing and fun will give them the tools they need to be successful on and off the playing field.
I am all for trainers helping with rehabbing injuries, but let's be clear. Until you show me a study where an overweight 10-year-old was given a personal trainer for eight years and made into a Division I athlete with no baggage, I have a hard time believing.
Some national trainers say it gives athletes a mental edge and a physical edge, but that applies only for the top 1 percent of the athletes in the country.
In the last 30 years, there is no question that athletes have gotten bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. But in the history of mankind, this time continuum is about a millisecond of a nanosecond of a microsecond. So the increase is from technology not genetics.
If this is true, then there must be a cost.
I am seeing a disturbing trend where children go from playing one sport in the afternoon to CrossFit training, or sometimes doing two sports in one day, multiple times during a weekend.
As a result, we are seeing children with some of the same injuries we see in adults. We are also seeing some of the emotional stress with playing DI and professional sports.
I am all for offseason conditioning programs, but children need down time and rest from youth sports. If only 1 percent of all the kids playing sports make it to the DI level, why on earth are we coaching and training these little children like college and professional athletes?
Let's embrace the fact that they are children, not take advantage of it.
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