Kids and sports: it is a touchy topic. We all want our child to be the best. As parents we think of ways we can make our kid better. We sign them up for clinic after clinic hoping it will result in that starting position. But at what cost?
Let me make this clear, I too want my children to be awesome athletes. I grew up a three sport athlete. I played sports all year round. I was always practicing something or going to a clinic. I put on my first pair of roller skates at three years old, joined the team at four and was competing for a national title in California as a third grader! I get it.
(Claim to fame: me on the podium with Olympic skater Jessica Smith circa 1989.)
I also get the mommy guilt. I have a three year old who is not enrolled in any organized sport. All I have to do is scroll through Facebook to feel the guilt. Saturday morning soccer practice, weekly gymnastics, cheer competitions, etc. My daughter goes to Gym & Swim once a week where she is learning a variety of sports and having some fun play time in the pool. Last winter we had her in “mommy and me” gymnastics where she learned large motor skills, balance and basically just exercised for 45 minutes.
Advice from Gabrielle Reece
There are days when I feel bad that she isn’t in soccer, or mastering her cartwheel. Then I am quickly reminded of what Gabrielle Reece said this summer. Yes, a pro athlete!
Katie from Mommy’s Little Running Buddy stood up and asked, “How do you go about overcoming the pressure of having your children in continued sports?” She went on to explain that like most parents, she feels that “mommy guilt” because she doesn’t always have her children enrolled in a sport of some kind. She gets asked questions of when her children are going to play a certain sport.
Do you know what Gabrielle Reece said? She said, “TELL THEM TO GET OVER IT!” She continued with these statistics:
– 1% of HIGH SCHOOL athletes play in college
– 1% of that 1% go on to play in the pros
She then posed this question, “What is your definition of success?” She continued to say, “To me, it isn’t how many goals scored. It is whether or not they are having fun on the court.”
At three years old my daughter cannot articulate that scoring a goal or winning a game is fun. However she can articulate that swimming with her friends or playing “red light green light” is fun. So that is what I will focus on: getting her moving and having fun.
What do I want for my children?
Do I want both her and M to be in sports? You bet your butt I do! I spent my childhood in a skating rink! I spent my middle school and high school fall and winters on a court. As soon as the weather turned warm you could find me on the diamond! Most of our week night dinners were spent in a uniform talking about the game we just won or lost.
Sports taught me a lot about life. I don’t want my children to miss out on those lessons they learn from playing sports and being on a team. But at what cost? And when is the time right?
At this moment, I cannot answer that question. What I do know is that right, wrong or indifferent my three year old is not going to be enrolled in everything, if anything. She can kick the ball in the backyard, I am happy to teach her how to “bump” a volleyball (that is often her request), and we will spend hours on end running, playing and tumbling. As for my 1 year old: he could be content all day throwing a ball, but that does not mean as soon as he is allowed I will enroll him in tee ball. Why?
I remember that statistic: 1%… 1%. Chances are my children will not be a college or pro athlete. Yes, some day they will have a lesson or be on a team, but the time is not now.
I know that this is a battle from within that comes along with parenting: we all want our child to be the star! A star can be born at home, in the backyard- trust me.
Next time you go sign your preschooler up for that $150 soccer clinic think about that 1%. Are you doing this because you hope they will be that 1%? Or are you doing this because it is truly fun for them?
Let’s not make our little ones grow up any faster. There will be a season for running around from practice to practice. There will be a season for weekend after weekend of games and tournaments. Parents of littles, embrace the season you are in and turn your backyard into the practice field.
Your turn- tell me!
What do you feel is an appropriate age to enroll your children in sports?
How do you find balance and deal with the pressure of kids in sports?