Is your child “going pro” in sixth grade?
Posted by Dean Holden at March 11th, 2013
by Jeffrey Rhoads, 5 March 2013
Along with transferring your passion for a sport onto your child, another mistake is to begin planning for your young star’s inevitable college scholarship and trip to the professional ranks based on youth sports success.
As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, your child will experience a number of physical changes through his or her high school years. Even when the genes are good, there is no guarantee of future success. Other “intangible” factors associated with your child’s disposition and personality will likely emerge. Your child’s interests will also change over time.
The bottom line is that middle school heroes are as likely to become intramural stars as they are high school starters.
Is This Ultimately Your Child’s Best Sport?
Even when a child shows exceptional talent in one sport at a young age, they may later excel in a different sport. I coached one 5th grade basketball player who showed excellent skills, an aggressive attitude, and seemed to have a natural aptitude for the game. I have little doubt that he would have enjoyed success playing competitive basketball at higher levels.
But by the time he reached high school, the boy had instead found his calling as a soccer player. He went on to enjoy an outstanding college career (winning All-American honors).
Not So Fast on That Athletic Scholarship
To expect that your young star is one step away from a college athletic scholarship is unrealistic. With the exception of elite athletes, scholarships are much more often based on financial need and academics than on athletic prowess.
Absolutely let your child enjoy their dreams of glory, fantastical as they may be. On occasion, those dreams do become reality. But keep yourself to the job of providing opportunities for their genius (if it’s there) to naturally emerge.
Instead of focusing on your child’s success in one sport, give your son or daughter the chance to play different sports. Especially at younger ages, give your child a taste of multiple sports. They will enjoy meeting new friends, experience crossover benefits from one sport to another, avoid overuse injuries and burnout, and more likely find the sport that best suits their athletic talent and nature as they mature.
In the case of that 5th grader I mentioned above, I ran into him a few years back. He made a point of introducing himself to me. Despite his success in soccer, he obviously still remembered that long ago YMCA basketball experience. I also suspect that a few of the skills he learned in basketball helped him succeed as he began to play competitive soccer. All of his sports experiences helped mold him into the excellent soccer player he became.
Always maintain a balanced, realistic perspective regarding your child’s success in youth sports. Don’t buy the fools gold that is early success in one sport. Provide your child with the opportunity to play multiple sports and build the base of experiences that will benefit him or her later on.
Copyright © 2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads. All Rights Reserved
The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the best youth sports experience for your child (Amazon $8.95)
(Kindle Edition $2.99)