Every parent and coach knows the basics of tough love. Pushing kids hard, setting expectations and giving them natural consequences can bring out the best in kids and help them grow into successful adults. Unfortunately, pushing kids too hard can have the opposite effect of creating burned out and resentful children. Walking the fine line of high expectations and understanding is essential when working with kids.
Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes
Medical professionals have noticed some startling trends in young athletes in recent years. Children used to play multiple sports, depending on the season, giving them all-over muscle strength and motor skills. Within the past few years, professionals have seen an increasing number of kids who are specializing in one sport at a young age. This specialization causes overuse injuries from repetitive movements that can cause trauma.
Many of these overuse injuries are seen in the bones, tendons and joints. A study in 2013 found that children who spend hours each week in one sport are 70 percent more likely to develop an overuse injury. Many of these injuries can sideline children from playing the sports they love and cause problems in adulthood. Many overuse injuries come from coaches who push their team too hard.
When to Speak Up as a Parent
Parents need to speak up if they notice their children have a change in attitude toward the sport or if they see excessive overuse injuries in their children. It can be difficult to talk with a coach or move them to another team, but children need an advocate who looks out for their best interests.
How Coaches Can Avoid Pushing Too Hard
It is the coach’s responsibility to encourage the best in their team and set high expectations without pushing them too hard. Helping and encouraging rather than yelling and bullying can produce far better results in children. One way to do this is to offer challenges. Let them know that the coach is there to help and encourage them but that they are expected to reach their goals. Setting the goals with the athletes can help ensure that no one is being pushed beyond what they are able to. This can bring out the best in both coaches and athletes.