Alexa's take on athletics: Parents push athletes to their tipping point

Design by Alexa Berisford

Everyone feels pressure from their parents, athlete or not, but some parents take it to the extreme. When does the caring push become forceful and too much for a kid to process?

From the parents’ perspective, they believe they know what is best for their child's athletic career and often push them to do things without hearing what the athlete has to say. However, sometimes parents use their child's athletic success to show off to their peers and exploit their children's success.

I have seen this time and time again throughout my personal athletic career. Many times, an athlete may feel worn out and no longer wants to compete in such a rigorous and time consuming environment.

This issue may lead a child to continue the sport but refuse to put in effort to improve. It may also lead to issues within the family and break the relationship bond between parent and child as they may feel their parents are pushing them into a corner.

I think everyone can agree on one thing, making sure children are getting adequate amounts of exercise is crucial for their growth and development, but they do not need to be the “best of the best” in any sport in order to meet this requirement.

Injuries are also a huge problem in sports. Children will push themselves so hard to the point where they get injured or suffer from a concussion. Statistics show that one third of athletes are sidelined due to injury. ​

With most children playing school sports, signing up for travel teams and participating in other activities. It's no surprise that injuries are becoming more common. According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, “Although the health benefits of participation in competitive and recreational athletic events are numerous, one adverse consequence is sport-related injury. Overuse or repetitive trauma injuries represent approximately 50% of all pediatric sport-related injuries. It is speculated that more than half of these injuries may be preventable with simple approaches.”

Youth sports are designed to be a stepping stone for young athletes to learn sportsmanship, meet friends, form good healthy habits, and learn how to lose as well as win.

Being involved in the child's athletics is important, as long as parents do not take it too far. Children find more enjoyment and reach their highest performance peak when parents create a balance between involvement and pressure. Parents’ interests with the child's sport should not depend on a win or lose; they should remain supportive no matter the outcome.

Since parents play such a huge role in their child's athletics, there are many things they can do to help them have a positive experience. Parents can do this by asking their child how practice was or how they felt about their game. Parents should attend as many games as possible.

They also need to offer praise and let their young athlete have fun playing. Allowing the child to make their own choices will help them understand what they really want, and helps them see what they find enjoyable. If parents make all of the decisions for the athlete, they might rebel and not want to participate in the sport.

Many people only see the overly involved parents in their children's recreational or school sports. While there is a high number from school sports, there is an even higher number of these parents in travel and club teams. These parents push their children to be the best because most pay a significant amount of money in tuition and equipment. As the costs get higher, the more controlling and involved the parents get. They do not want to lose because they feel like it is a waste of money to not win.

In conclusion, there can be many factors that play into parents pushing their young athletes. There are many ways parents can be involved with their children's athletics by still encouraging and giving them positive feedback. If parents let coaches coach, then youth sports can go back to serving the purpose it originally was meant to, and children can go back to having fun and enjoying the game.


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