Plain and simple: your kids are playing their sport too much. You think playing more will automatically improve their game—and potentially get them some exposure. But it's doing more harm than good. Here's why:
They will be smaller and weaker than their opponents
When playing a sport year round or joining multiple teams, your athlete has no time to actually get better. He or she can have the best technique on the planet, but it won't do any good if s/he is scrawny and weak.
I've had juniors in high school tell me they've been playing since they were 6 years old, yet never set foot in a gym. That's nine years of developing fundamental skills without ever lifting a weight.
If your athlete follows this path, he or she will be smaller and weaker than the athletes s/he competes against. S/He may be able to dribble like crazy, but s/he will lack speed or power.
I'm not discounting the importance of skill development, but strength training cannot be an afterthought. It's equally as important in the development of an athlete. If an athlete puts in work in the weight room, he or she will be much more likely to reach his or her full potential.
They may get hurt
At Ultimate Advantage Training, our motto is, "We Will Outwork Everyone." We lift heavy weight and challenge ourselves each workout, but we do so intelligently.
Playing too often with no time to recover is a recipe for an injury, especially for a developing body. Yet, parents often brag when their athletes play a crazy amount of games over a weekend. Do they think playing in a game when you're completely fatigued is actually a good thing?
If this were the case, professional teams would play more games and cancel the off-season. They could earn more money with each game played, so this only seems logical. However, it's simply not the reality. Teams would be decimated with injuries, careers would be cut short, and the quality of play would drastically decrease.
They could burn out
I've seen this over and over again. Athletes grind and grind all year with no real rest, and by the time high school is over they want no part of their sport.
I worked with a girl who played tennis since she was 4 years old. She hit every day and traveled all over the country to improve her USTA ranking. She loved tennis and she was good at it.
She was undefeated her freshman year in high school, but eventually lost in the state finals to an older player. After the loss, she was so beat and burned out that she never played tennis again. The grind and pressure finally took its toll.
The physical and mental stress can build to a point of no return if you don't give your athlete a break. It will become his or her life, and any setback will seriously derail his or her athletic career.
The football season should serve as an example for all athletes. You rarely—if ever—see burnout with high school football players. Why? Because they unbuckle their helmets in November and don't put them on again until August. They spend the rest of the year working to become better athletes.
Your athlete can become great with hard work in the weight room, some good moves and a little bit of luck. Don't push your kids so hard that they come to hate their sport. Give their bodies time to recover, and bring them to a training center to develop their physical skills. They will love the change of pace and the chance to get stronger and run faster.
- Midseason Burnout: Are You At Risk?
- Suffering from Burnout? Athletic Benefits of Cross Training
- Are You Overtraining or Under-Recovering?
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