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The Highs And Lows Of Youth Sports

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For anyone who has ever had a child (or grandchild or friend) involved in youth sports, they know it can be a mixed bag. Participating in sports can provide kids with the opportunity to learn new skills where they can excel and compete. Some of these kids even continue playing through high school and sometimes beyond. Sports can give kids a sense of identity and a feeling of belonging that is a boon to their self esteem. At a time of life when these young people are trying to fit in and be recognized, one can appreciate how important this particular benefit is. There is also a lot to be said about the physical fitness benefits that are inherent in most sports. In a nation where the youth (as well as the adults) are becoming increasingly inactive and overweight, it is imperative that we provide our kids the instruction, the motivation and opportunities to keep their bodies strong and healthy. Sports can contribute greatly in accomplishing this goal. Meeting new people and building friendships with whom there are shared interests is another positive aspect of being involved in sports. Many individuals have friendships which were fostered when they were young through sporting activities that have continued throughout their lives and which have provided a source of immeasurable support and enjoyment.
On the other side of the issue are some definite drawbacks. Unfortunately, the incidences where parents clash with their children’s coaches or with one another, (sometimes to the point of physicality) seem to be escalating. This type of behavior sets the very worst example for the kids and is counter-productive to say the least. Many conscientious parents are leery of subjecting their children to these encounters and don’t really encourage their kids to go out for sports for this very reason.
Then there are the kids who are not particularly athletic and who do not naturally excel at sports and yet want who want to be part of a team, to learn new skills, and make new friendships. Often, these kids spend most of their time sitting on the bench or standing on the sidelines which is frustrating and disappointing not only to the kids but to their parents as well. This is a problem that most people who have coached have had some experience with. Naturally, the kids who make up the team (and the coach and the parents) would like to win. Because of this, it is typically the best players who see the vast majority of playing time. While that is understandable, it is also a dilemma because there is a lot more to be accomplished in youth sports than just winning game. For those kids who seldom see any action it can be a devastating experience. When deciding if involvement in sports is right for your child, there are many things to be considered.

Nancy Smith is one of the owners of RobbinsSports.com, an online retailer specializing in Basketball Uniforms and Portable Scoreboards