Boy, oh boy, it’s not easy being a parent. There are personal decisions we have to make for ourselves that are difficult enough- now, having to decide for the health and safety of our children takes it to a whole new level.
The problem is when the decisions we have to make for our kids are unpopular.
Decisions can be in the form of encouraging your children to participate in sports, so they gain exposure to the sport, or it can be in the form of telling your child not to play for their safety.
Travel sports holds much of the blame for early specialization. Coaches of these teams often tell young kids and their parents- “If Sue doesn’t play year-round, she might not get a scholarship.” So what happens is panic sets in, and they buy into the fallacy. We all know our youth should be exposed to many sports and activities- period!
Parents have to make this decision for their children and be willing to go against the grain.
On the other side of the coin, we’ve got the sports and activities that present much higher risk factors and might be wise to avoid until a later stage of development.
Those who know me know I love the sport of tackle football. I played it, coached it, and trained many athletes for it.
But in no uncertain terms do I, nor have it ever, agreed with youngsters playing full-contact tackle football.
I can hear the critics now…
It’s good for them!
It makes them tougher!
Yeah, yeah, yeah! I’ve listened to this for years, and it makes me dislike the idea of young kids with sensitive under-developed brains getting smashed in the head even more.
I know many famous people like Snoop-Dog and others who have promoted it for years. I also know many kids come out of it uninjured. We know that when youg=ngsters have their brains “rattled” consistently, it is detrimental to their health and well-being. There is absolutely no arguing this.
The safe alternative to develop the skills of the sport and enjoy the competition of football is to play flag football.
I am also entirely against youth soccer players HEADING a soccer ball as well. It is very well documented that soccer is one of the leading sports for concussions. Hitting a relatively hard ball traveling at high speeds with your head is never a good idea- regardless of the sport. I know it’s how goals and other plays are made, but it doesn’t erase the dangers because it’s a part of the game.
Your head is not meant to be a battering ram!
As a parent, you have to be willing to be the “bad guy” and say no! It’s dangerous at your age -and you’re not going to play right now.
I can hear all the grumbling and opponents who will find every little argument possible to attempt to clear their conscience and justify their decision. I do get it. It’s hard to say NO! It’s hard for me to say I am against any sport because I have lived my entire life playing all sports.
When I was growing up, I started playing tackle football when I was in eighth grade. We had to be a certain age to play during those times. I loved football! I received plenty of concussions while playing, and so I can’t imagine if I had started playing complete contact at the age of 5-years old. What a mess I would be in at my age now. I genuinely don’t think I would have been able to overcome to consistent impact on my brain.
My wife and I didn’t allow our son to play tackle football, but he played flag football and loved it. We didn’t let him head a soccer ball when he was younger. However, he played tons of soccer.
It’s flat out rough sometimes being the bad guy and saying NO to the unsafe situation or pushing them into other sports, so they don’t specialize at an early age. But it must be done for their health and safety during their youth, especially as they grow up and want to be a healthy, productive adult.
This is not my favorite topic to write on, but it might be one of the most important.
I expect most to completely ignore me and show angry at my audacity to speak out against their decision to let their child play or not play. It is never my intent to dictate anyone’s decisions- only to inform!
Understanding youth sports, especially the health and safety of performance, can be found in my teachings inside the Speed Toolbox. It is also a perfect landing spot to gain valuable insight into proper training so your child can enjoy sports and perform at a safe and highly effective level.