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How to Prevent Your Child From Dropping Out of Sport

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How to Prevent Your Child From Dropping Out of Sport

There are more and more young athletes with the potential to become professionals or just enjoy amateur sport for life who are quitting before the age of 13. Additionally, the epidemic of overweight and obese children is continuing to rise mainly due to the increasing levels of inactivity in the young adolescent years.

Children are driven by fun and passion; they are far more likely to do something if they think of it as a game or an opportunity to have some fun. Sport is becoming way too serious at such a young age, with so much pressure being placed on young athletes to be performing at such a high level so early on. This pressure is often caused by parents and the way in which sporting performance and results are so heavily focussed on, rather than the enjoyment side.

Additionally, the prevalence of sporting academies for youth athletes is increasing. Children are being treated as though they are professionals and comparing them to the elite when they are only just beginning. This creates an unhealthy obsession with constant comparison which leaves the child feeling as though they aren't good enough, rather than seeing consistent small improvements each week.

The stories you hear of young athletes being "child prodigies" or videos you see online of children with the sporting skill of a professional athlete, these scenarios are made possible by the passion of the child themselves. They want to go out and play their sport every day. Many children do not have that level of enthusiasm if they have to "train" every day, rather than thought that they are just going outside to have some fun.

As parents, coaches or mentors it's really important that you are creating a safe and fun environment for children to want to keep coming back to play sport. Have a smile on your face and go out for pizza regardless of the result. Create a positive environment and relationship with exercise where they are rewarded for having fun rather than winning. This will have a far greater carry over to sport and remaining active later in life.

Let your children try and play as many sports as they can growing up, they'll lean towards the one towards the one they are best at or enjoy the most as they get older. Don't force your young athlete into doing extra practices or dragging them out of the house every day to train so they can be the "best".

If they indicate they want to train more or ask for help, assist and nurture them in that journey, but allow them to come to that conclusion themselves. If your child feels as though they are being forced into something they are going to feel an unwanted pressure which takes the fun away from it. The same applies when you tell them to get off the PlayStation and do their homework, sport and training will start to become something they resent rather than an activity they enjoy.

For more information on strength and conditioning for youth athletes and increasing your sports performance, check out our website and podcast available on Spotify and YouTube!

Matt Hucul
Sports and Conditioning Coach
Inner Athlete - Bayside's premium strength and conditioning coaching for youth athletes

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