BY KYLEIGH SPRIGLE
There is a difference between encouraging kids and pushing them too hard. When children participate in a sport, it is difficult for parents or coaches to find a balance between the two. Pressuring kids in sports can be damaging to a child both mentally and physically.
Pushing kids past their limits can negatively impact their emotional development and damage the parent-child bond. Children with a strong internal drive may thrive on the competition, but the pressure can be too much for others.
Players need an innate desire to play. Parents and coaches who push too hard, too young can easily wipe out a child’s motivation to play. One of the worst things that a person can do to an athlete is to make them hate their preferred sport. However, that is exactly what all the pressure can do.
“I wanted to quit when I was younger because of how hard my parents were on me,” junior Kylie Bright said. “Multiple people I know quit because they hated it and their parents forced them to play.”
“I wanted to quit when I was younger because of how hard my parents were on me.”
Burnout is the exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. There are higher chances of burnout occurring when a child is pushed past their limits in sports, due to the fatigue from continued demands or high expectations. Internal factors, like perfectionism or loss of love for the sport, can also contribute to burnout.
“I quit baseball when I was younger because I got bored and I didn’t love it anymore,” senior Dylan Zacca said. “My parents didn’t force me to keep playing. They actually wanted me to play volleyball.”
The pressure placed on young athletes can damage them physically. Forcing kids to throw extra pitches, run extra miles or do anything beyond their bodies’ limits can cause injuries. Athletes will often practice multiple times a week, but it becomes excessive and harmful when it is an everyday occurrence.
Forcing kids to throw extra pitches, run extra miles or do anything beyond their bodies’ limits can cause injuries.
Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction, also known as Tommy John surgery, is becoming more common for baseball players. A UCL injury can be caused by the repetitive motion of throwing. The surgery is being performed on athletes of younger ages every year.
About 60 percent of all Tommy John surgeries in the United States are for patients ages 15 to 19.
“If I had a bad game, my parents weren’t super hard on me; they knew I was hard enough on myself. I had the intrinsic motivation and drive to work hard and push myself,” college commit Michelle Adelman said. “My parents realized I worked as hard as I could so berating me for poor performance wouldn’t help me.”
There are constructive ways to push your child within sports without negatively affecting their mental state. Different athletes will react in different ways. Some athletes respond well to pressure while others do not. A balance has to be found between encouragement and pushing young athletes too hard. The limit must be established and respected by parents and coaches or it could be detrimental to the player.
Photo by Anabella Garcia