The world of youth sports is a lot different than it was when you were growing up. An increase in sports specialization and higher levels of competition at younger ages have changed the landscape of this childhood rite of passage. Here is everything that dads need to know about getting their children involved in youth athletics.
Why It’s Great for Them
As the U.S. Marine Corps Community Services states, there are many reasons why playing sports is great for a child’s overall physical, mental, and emotional development. Not only does consistent physical activity boost overall health, but it also provides the opportunity to learn how to work as a team and gain valuable leadership skills. Participating in youth sports is also an ideal way to make friends and feel a part of the community. The commitment involved in sports participation encourages children as they learn to stick to a schedule and push themselves to reach their goals. Children who find success in athletics are also more likely to be confident in all aspects of their life.
While there may be a responsible and trained adult coaching your child’s team, it is always a good idea to remain involved in the process. According to The Kindley Firm, a coach can be liable for an injury that results from pushing a child beyond their limits. Although you do not want to be overbearing, it is acceptable to observe practices and training so that you are kept abreast of any potential problems. Taking on the role of team parent or offering to help officiate games or plan outside social activities are all good ways to stay involved.
Don’t Be That Crazy Soccer Dad
Keep in mind that your kids are there to have fun while competing. Too much pressure from the parents takes the fun out of the sport. While it is tempting to coach from the sidelines, it is more important that you let the actual coach instruct your child. A young athlete is easily confused when they hear too many voices, especially if they are offering conflicting instructions. When the competition is over, be sure to resist the urge to offer pointers. It is better to simply tell your child how much you enjoy watching them play and compete.
Encourage Multi-Sport Athletes
As a dad, you should encourage your child to play more than one sport, according to Stack. Specializing in one sport too early in life can lead to burnout and a higher incidence of overuse injuries. Instead, it is best to encourage your young athlete to try as many sports as possible. Your child will develop a stronger set of varied skills and increased coordination by using different muscle groups. Playing only one sport also increases the pressure in that sport, causing kids to become mentally and emotionally stressed.
The bottom line is that you should always be your child’s biggest cheerleader. You can do this by learning to be supportive and involved without being overbearing and critical of every aspect of the process.
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