Jul 3rd, 2019
Author: Stacy McNaught
Category: Latest News
Our Youth Programs are inspired through the very best knowledge and resources that the world has to offer, but more importantly, they are specific to Youth training and ALWAYS at the forefront of that is “What is best for the kids”.
We have long held our belief that early sports specialisation is not what is best for kids, particularly the long term effects. There is becoming, albeit very slowly, a shift in this thinking towards allowing kids more “play” and focussing more on increasing the general physical skills (train kids to be generally good at a wider range of physical skills). It is great to see more article and studies appearing on just that.
Playing sports has clear social, physical and mental health benefits for children. But evidence shows that youth sports in Western societies have become increasingly controlled and regulated by adults, which takes the fun out for many children.
Participation rates by adolescents have been declining and recent statistics released by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) show a 60% surge in sports injuries for children in the 10 to 14 age group over the past decade in New Zealand.
In response to concerns about declining participation from this age group, the North Harbour Rugby Union recently decided to remove representative junior teams. The decision was based on a considerable body of research that suggests children’s sport is increasingly driven by adults ambitions.
To see our major sporting code begin to adopt changes to make the sport more in line with what is best for kids is heartening, to say the least, particularly when we see the evidence pointing toward parental ambitions rather than what the kids want from the sport.
“The only pathways kids should be on until well into their teens are footpaths. The idea that a 12-year-old is on the pathway to a professional sports career is ridiculous and speaks only to parental obsession , not reality.”
North Harbour Rugby based its decision on research that shows young people play sport primarily for fun, to be with their mates and for the sheer joy and exhilaration it provides.
Aside from concerns about dropout, research also shows that an overemphasis on representative teams and performance at an early age promotes early specialisation. Our NZ-based research suggests that over-engagement in organised sport (often associated with early specialisation) can increase risk of overuse injuries, possibly contributing to the increased injuries in young people identified by ACC.
Simon Walters, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Recreation, Auckland University of Technology and Chris Whatman, Associate Professor, Sport and Exercise Science, Auckland University of Technology
Read the original article in full HERE
Coach Stacy is the only Professional Youth Certified Coach in New Zealand.
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