Any parent who has had their child in an organized sport for any length of time has heard that child say that he or she is tired of it or doesn’t want to do it anymore.
While encouraging them to stick it out teaches a valuable lesson in perseverance and commitment, it might be worthwhile to take a step back and ask yourself if maybe you’re expecting too much.
When I was a kid and the baseball season was over, it was over. Time to hang up the glove and put away the cleats and get ready for football.
These days, there’s spring ball and fall ball and all-stars; it’s possible to spend nine months out of the year involved in some kind of baseball related activity. The question is: should you?
1. How Much is Too Much?
Did you know that according to Forbes, the youth sports industry in this county is a $7 billion a year business? Some families are spending up to 10% of their entire family income on athletics and related travel for their children.
That’s a significant investment.
It, therefore, makes sense that parents would want to make certain that they are getting their money’s worth, do whatever they feel is necessary to make sure that their child is playing at the highest level and always improving.
Maybe they feel like there is a potential scholarship down the line. With the cost of higher education continuing to spiral ever higher, it’s a tempting proposition.
Unfortunately, according to ScholarshipStats.com, only about 7% of athletes who participate in sports even at the high school level, go on to play that sport at a collegiate level, and fewer still earn scholarships to do so.
Even if it’s not a subject that is explicitly spoken about, children cannot help but feel pressure to meet their parents’ expectations. Add this to the stress children are already under in their everyday lives, and for some, the combination can be overwhelming.
So how much is too much? The truth is it varies for every child. Some are very enthusiastic about the sport and are perfectly happy playing as often as they can while others are less so and would probably be better off if they are allowed time off, or are allowed to chose another sport to participate in part of the time.
It’s up to parents to be sensitive to the needs of their children and pick up on cues that maybe aren’t explicitly stated. Sometimes a child may be reluctant to speak up because they are afraid of the reaction they might provoke. A persistent lack of enthusiasm or claims that they don’t feel well when the topic of baseball – or any sport – is discussed, then it might be time to have a heart-to-heart with your little athlete.
2. Variety is the Key
Just because a child gets burned out on one sport does not mean they are turned off to the whole idea of sports in general.
Football and soccer are both good cool weather team sports, and involve a total body workout.
Lacrosse is also gaining wide popularity across the country and involves many of the same hand-eye coordination skills that are important to baseball.
Alternatively, perhaps a break from team sports is what’s needed. Tennis and golf are both appropriate sports for children, requiring strong hand-eye coordination, while swimming, running and cycling are good solitary activities that allow for the release of competitive energy and help to maintain fitness levels.
As with any activity a child is involved with, the key is knowing when to say “enough”.
Drawing upon my own experience with my grandson, who is a great ball player, I recall when he started to show signs of burnout.
He seemed to be playing all the time, whether it was regular season or all-stars, there never seemed to be an off season. His father, my son-in-law, who was coaching the team, encouraged this year round play because he knew how valuable his son was to the team.
My grandson never out-and-out said that he didn’t want to play because he knew his dad would be disappointed, but he often commented that he wondered what it would be like to play soccer like his aunts did.
I knew then that it was time for me to have a sit-down with his dad and tell him that he might want to have an honest talk with “Casey” about whether or not he wanted to try other sports.
In the end, he did try soccer for a season before deciding it wasn’t for him and went back to baseball; but, I honestly think that getting away from the sport for a season made a great deal of difference.
His attitude has improved and I think it actually made him a better player because he has a renewed appreciation for baseball. There may be a lesson there for all of us.
How About You?
Have you experienced an instance of player burn out with your own child, and how did you handle it?