When should kids focus on one sport above all others?

Keith Still, a mother of three, is filling in for Theresa Giarrusso today.

Today, my oldest daughter (12-years-old) is taking her first real gymnastics class, and I’m a little anxious to see how things go.

It’s not as if she is about to enter a totally-unknown world. We have already spent many hours a week in this gym with her little sister (our 6-year-old). I know the coaches and what they expect. Because of that, I also know how young most of the “beginners” are and how quickly they go from beginner to developmental to team gymnasts.

Unlike my little one, though, my 12-year-old doesn’t harbor any dreams of being a team gymnast. (That’s probably good, because from what I can tell, if you’re just learning gymnastics at 12 years old, you are several years behind most of the competitive gymnasts out there.) Instead, she is taking her first class in an effort to improve her tumbling skills before cheerleading tryouts at her school next year.

I admire my middle schooler’s desire to set a long-term goal and work toward it. All three of my girls are consistently involved with extracurricular sports or activities. My 9-year-old tends to focus on team sports, and my youngest was bitten hard by the gymnastics bug a couple of years ago. But my oldest, while always into something, tends to flit from one activity or sport to another. That never really concerned me until now.

In the past, we have encouraged each of our girls to try a wide variety of different sports; see what they liked. We didn’t want them to feel like they had to do soccer or softball or dance for the rest of their childhood just because that’s the first activity they chose. If they expressed interest in tennis, we signed them up for lessons. If after a while, they wanted to try basketball, that was fine too.

While I still think that’s a good idea in theory, I have begun to look around at my daughter’s friends – most of whom have found an interest somewhere along the line and stuck with it. Cheerleading is a prime example. At 12 years old, most of the girls who are trying out for the middle school squad have been cheering for years on parks and rec or even competition leagues. It doesn’t mean that beginners like my daughter have no chance of making the squad, but it does put them at a big disadvantage.

That brings me to this morning’s gymnastics. I am anxious, because I realize my daughter could well be the oldest girl in the beginner’s class (it’s for girls 8 and up). I don’t know if she will feel self-conscious being as much as four years older than her classmates; if she will be discouraged; or what. I hope she will realize everyone has to begin somewhere, and that this is a first step toward reaching her personal goal.  Deep down, however, I also hope there’s another 12-year-old in the class.

Did your children focus on a particular sport or activity early on? If so, did it make a difference in their ability to fully participate or even excel? Did they (or do they) ever regret missing the opportunity to explore other activities? Do you worry they might burn out on the sport?

If your child didn’t zero-in on an interest early on, have they found it difficult to make it in school sports or other organized sports because they came late to the game? Are there particular sports or activities that are especially difficult to begin at a later age? Are there sports to which kids typically don’t focus on until middle or high school?

At what age should a child begin to focus on one particular interest or activity over all of the others?

71 comments Add your comment

Jeff

June 22nd, 2010
7:31 am

As a child, I participated in a plethora of activities ranging from music to sports. I think at some point the child gravitates to selected activities based on a combination of what they have talent for and what they enjoy, which are not necessarily the same.

Let it run its natural course and see what happens. Sometimes, things they hate teach them life lessons as well. Statistically, there will always be someone better, but the lessons can still be the same. I hated running in high school, but I’ve been an avid runner now for 19 years and love it.

G.R.I.T.S.

June 22nd, 2010
8:09 am

my daughter loved gymnastics when she was very young but the logistics of getting her there were to difficult so she had to stop. she played basketball starting when she was 9 and played until her senior year. she also ran track and played volleyball. she was great at track but didnt like it and was very good at basketball but only liked it ok…she loved volleyball and was good at it. in my opinion, as long as they are doing SOME sport, and not hating it, its ok..whether its only one or many. kids need the activity, but they really shouldnt have to play at a sport they dont like. she quit baskketball in her senior year because she really didnt like it and it took her whole life…practice or game every day of the week. she did play volley ball and ran track….she only ran track because the coach begged her because she was the winner almost every meet. she also did it because it was good exercise. i think that the fact that your daughter wants to try a new thing is awesome.

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Wow,.....

June 22nd, 2010
8:19 am

Jeff,……”plethora”……Really?

G.R.I.T.S.

June 22nd, 2010
8:30 am

jeff you are so right…my daughter was great at track and very good at basketball but didnt really like either…she loved volley ball and was good at it..but not great…

Jesse's Girl

June 22nd, 2010
8:46 am

As the mom of a competitivemiddle school cheerleader…and as a coach myself….please allow me to give you some sage advice on tumbling. Your daughter will not get the proper kind of skill set in a traditional gymnastics gym that she would in a cheer gym. Find an Allstar cheer team…and if you live close to Theresa…..they are abundant in that county. These gyms have tumblimg classes specific to cheerleading as opposed to gymnastics. The counts to begin a jump/tumbling sequence are totally different than they are in gymnastics. Also…the way they start and end a skill will be different. She would also have the benefit of being surrounded by other cheerleaders that she can learn and grow with and from. The cost is likely more affordable as well. My cheer gym charges $45 a month for an hour class once a week and a private 30 minute lesson is usually $25 across the board. Just something to think about…..

1sus

June 22nd, 2010
8:48 am

Growing up I went to a pretty small high school and was active in everything from sports to choir to bandfront to cheerleading to musicals/plays, student government and yearbook. I feel I was very lucky to grow up in a time and place (graduated in 85) when that was possible. It doesn’t seem that kids can do that now. I hate that kids seem to specialize in one specific sport by age 8. My oldest is only 8 and she is trying several different activiites. Hopefully she will find one or two that she really loves and has talent for. Gone are the days it seems of 3 sport letterpeople!

FCM

June 22nd, 2010
9:11 am

My eldest has loved soccer for several seasons. In fact I am working on getting her a team near our new home. The younger one has never shown interst in any sport to date. She does like to climb to swing on the play ground.

The eldest started expressing a desire to do some cheer moves last night. I am not sure how much I should encourage it — I know most kids start much younger than 10 getting prepared to cheer–but I support her. I will just hate the defeat she will face if she doesn’t make the team.

She has private music lessons and loves them.

I am just glad I can support their interests.

newblogger

June 22nd, 2010
9:12 am

My oldest played a variety of sports until high school; soccer, baseball, basketball and a brief stint in football (and hated it). However, when he started 9th grade, football is what he wanted to play. Much to my amazement he stuck with it for four years! Was he the best on the team? Probably not-he had not played the game all of his life like some of his teammates. But he was pretty good and loved the game. He saw some of his teammates burn out by their senior year because they had played it all of their lives. There went the scholarships mom and dad had hoped for. He had other friends who didn’t focus on one sport until maybe their sophomore year and went on to get great scholarships. I think it depends on the child, the sport and why they are in it. I don’t see anything wrong with trying a multitude of sports as long as the parents don’t let the child quit in the middle of the year/season/class if they don’t like it. I’ve always told my boys that if they don’t like what they are doing, they have to at least finish what they started. They don’t ever have to play it again, but they can’t quit in the middle. I think that’s an important life lesson. I hope your daughter has a great experience in gymnastics!

Jeff

June 22nd, 2010
9:13 am

And, no, I’m not gay. LOL.

Eddie Cochran

June 22nd, 2010
9:20 am

as a former college/professional athlete, let me give some advice to Jesse’s Girl; get your daughter out of “competitive cheerleading” ASAP. the very fact that you refer rooting for a team as “competitve” says it all. sports are great for kids, but no child kid needs to declare a major before high school. that said, parents who overload children with 5 different activies (in lieu actually parenting or playing with children) need to re-evaluate their priorities. competition should not be stressed. parents should look for instructional leagues, where the children will develop their own age-appropriate competitive drives.

KeithB

June 22nd, 2010
9:21 am

I just read a great book by Wayne Bryan, the father of the Bryan brothers (tennis doubles champions). I would recommend it. It’s an easy read.

Raising Your Child to Be a Champion in Athletics, Arts, and Academics

motherjanegoose

June 22nd, 2010
9:24 am

As I have said before, we are not a “live eat breathe” sports family. Ours did try everything ( except football) and both settled down into basketball by middle school ( no pressure from us…just chose it).
My son was tall and could rebound the ball…my daughter is a lefty and that has it’s surprise advantage plus she was quick and could get across the court. Neither were star material but they were both steady and loved it.

Just yesterday, my daughter played a piece for me on the piano. I have been gone for nearly two weeks and she taught herself a new piece while I was out. She has not taken piano in 5 years. Neat!

Some of us, do not realize our potential until later in life. Last week, I met a man ( on the plane) whose brother became an MD at age 50…neat stuff. The gentleman in front of us was 71 and just got his PhD. He told us his wife closed up his scholarship fund now.

Keith, just encourage her and give her kudos for her initiative!

@ Wow…stick around….you may learn a few things here. I use the word plethora often in speaking but not typically on this blog. It stretches our minds to expand our vocabularies! Thanks Jeff!

ABC

June 22nd, 2010
9:28 am

@Eddie, you raise a good point about cheer. I’m female and never understood the interest or appeal of cheerleading…except as something that might appeal to the high school boys watching the girls! Really, can someone tell us what’s so great about cheer. If your daughters are athletically inclined, why not sign them up for gymnastics, softball, basketball, tennis, etc. Why does it have to be cheer, which to me serves no purpose whatsoever.

Let the flames begin!

M1chelle

June 22nd, 2010
9:37 am

All 3 of my kids, two elem age and one 9th grader do Karate. It is VERY convenient because they can all go to class together. Two have black belts and the other is about a year away from black belt. They get exercise, discipline, and self-defense skills, They usually enjoy going to class and the friends they have there. I don’t push them to go to karate tournaments because they are not trying to be high “professional” martial artists. The kids also do community basketball and want to do other actibvities like music. As long as I can fit it reasonably into the schedule and budget, then I’m good with it. I will NOT overschedule them with activities.
My brother played football from 6 years old until high school. By high school, he was not as passionate about playing and had knee issues. Sometimes my competitiveness wants my kids to get into a sport early and master it, but I don’t think that’s right. But I do encourage them to use their natural talents, but I don’t pressure them to do things that they just don’t want to do.

motherjanegoose

June 22nd, 2010
9:40 am

@ Eddie….LOL…you know things I absolutely do not . I have stayed away from the competitive cheerleading crowd…not my cup of tea…neither with time, money nor fortitude of the mamas.

You seem like someone who has perhaps been on the sports sidewalk longer than others. I did not grow up in a sports family at all and thus I do not have the inside scoop about when to introduce sports and how. What sport( s) did you play?

Yes, opinions are like noses…we all have one but I am intrigued at your reasoning ( about cheer leading) since I never “got” the cheer leading thing myself.

This is probably a stupid opinion but I have always thought a sport could be a life long pass time, even after you peak at performance. I do not see many 30 year olds out in their yards cheer leading. I do respect the intense discipline and talent involved, not to mention the time and money but I obviously missed something. My daughter was never into it. She did try tumbling and tap.
I do realize the discipline/focus of cheer leading is an important skill and I admire the zeal.

Keith

June 22nd, 2010
9:41 am

Thanks guys. I will let you know how things go today!

Before I had children and began paying attention to these sports leagues, I never would have imagined that so many kids would have chosen to focus on one particular sport at such early ages. But, at least from my limited perspective, that seems to be the norm around here. It is good to hear that there are other kids out there who are trying (and are happy or successful at) new sports well into high school.

Jesse’s Girl — thanks for the advice on the different types of tumbling classes. I don’t live near Theresa, but I’ll see if we have something similar over here on the northside.

motherjanegoose

June 22nd, 2010
9:42 am

@ ABC…your last line is EXACTLY what I was thinking!

Sick of paying for illegals

June 22nd, 2010
9:42 am

I am a former high school and college cheerleader. Several years ago I helped coach a competitive cheer team. We went to a competition and I have never seen such a group of more self-absorbed brats in my life! I heard”I,me, my, mine” more that day than the rest of my life combined. Even the little girl squads spoke terribly to their moms and leaders. I was appalled. Find a real sport and run away from comp cheer.

ABC

June 22nd, 2010
9:46 am

Exactly! Competitive cheer seems to me to be an extension of the kiddie beauty pageants, which creep me out no end. Maybe their moms are living vicariously through their daughters? Just a thought!

DB

June 22nd, 2010
10:06 am

My son loved soccer for years and years — still does. Frankly, I don’t see why any parent should encourage specialization in any one sport, in the absence of outstanding ability/talent. I always felt that if a child had an outstanding talent for a specific sport, then if THEY really felt the pull, nothing was going to keep them away from it. They’d be juggling the soccer ball in the back yard, hitting baseballs for hours at a time, practicing handsprings for hours, etc., etc. If that’s their passion, then, as a parent, there wouldn’t be anything you could do to stop them! Lacking that passion, I think it’s better to give a child an opportunity to try a variety of new things. Once you’re an adult, it’s a lot harder to pick up a new sport! Why do parents feel the need for their kids to be outstanding in a sport? I just never got it.

I always rolled my eyes at the number of parents who were star-struck by the idea that their little Johnny or Julie was going to get a college scholarship to play sports in college. And then what? NFL? MLB? NBA? Umm, probably not. If they spent 1/4 of the time on their books as they did on their sports practices, they could go to almost any college in the country on the basis of their brains, not their muscles. The same parent that willingly put up with 10 or more hours of practice a week suddenly get all pissy if their little darlings have to spend more than 1/2 an hour on homework. WTH?

My son loved soccer — but in middle school and high school, he also enjoyed swimming and cross-country. We tried fencing, karate and basketball, too, but never wandered over to football or baseball. Now he enjoyes triathlons, adding the biking to the swimming and running he already enjoyed. And in college, he’s picked up racquetball. Give them the confidence to try new things, don’t pigeon-hole them at the age of 6!

Robin

June 22nd, 2010
10:09 am

Enter your comments here

meme's mommy

June 22nd, 2010
10:21 am

i confess my little one (age 2yrs 7mos) attends a gymnastics class one day a week and LOVES it. i honestly think it’s about exposure..do i expect her to stick with it? i really don’t know–but for right now it’s great gross motor activity as well as an opportunity for me to take an hour off and play with her (its a mommy and me type thing). with the world cup coverage, she’s also mentioned that she wants to play soccer, so we’ll be kicking a ball around at the park this weekend. as long as it’s fun to her then i’m all for it!

Jeff

June 22nd, 2010
10:33 am

I don’t get the cheerleading thing either, but I’m sure it serves well for some. It strikes me as pageants, but with pompoms.

I’m convinced the more we keep kids active the better off they are in the long run. I’m so glad my parents refused to buy the atari.

Becky

June 22nd, 2010
10:35 am

My oldest sister always told her kids that they could do whatever they wanted to do, but once they signed up for something, they had to complete that activity..This worked pretty well for them..

I have a niece (thru marriage) that does the traveling competive cheerleading..The only thing I could ever see happening from that is maybe one day becoming a NFL/NBA cheerleader..But as someone else mentioned, what’s the chance of that happening?

"Atari" and "plethora" in one day...

June 22nd, 2010
10:41 am

…Jeff, you are on a roll…….

Eddie Cochran

June 22nd, 2010
10:42 am

ABC, bingo! (extension of the beauty pagent mentality). And, it is no different than a Little League dad who pushes his kid to become the next Chipper Jones. Between the ages of 5-15 kids should learn the mechanics or techniques required “compete” at a later age. They’ll get all the competition they need, should they continue participating in H.S. and beyond, and they do need to learn that competition is a fact of life.

JJ

June 22nd, 2010
10:45 am

Both my nieces have done the cheerleading thing, but only because their mom is trying to live vicariously through them.

I personally think cheerleading should ONLY be for high school and college sports. I see no long term reason for competitive cheerleading……..there aren’t very many rewarding careers for cheerleaders. I myself was a cheerleader in 11th and 12th grades and that’s as far as I wanted to go.

I think little girls cheerleading at the park for little boys playing football is beyond stupid. That and it is SO FREAKING expensive. My SIL paid over $500/season for each girl to cheer. I can think of SO many other things to do with $1,000 every fall……

C'mon, folks...

June 22nd, 2010
10:46 am

…cheerleading is jsut like all other sports in that it gives the child exercise and is an organizational activity that builds socialization skills. Yes, the girls can be divas (as well as their moms can be, too); but have you ever noticed many of the boy/athletes and the “divas” in those groups? And their parents are not referred to as “soccer moms” for nothing!!!

So let the kids be kids and stop hating on the activity – it is only sports…

Eddie Cochran

June 22nd, 2010
10:52 am

Becky, interesting observation. And what is the value in becoming a NBA or NFL cheerleader – actually, I think they are now referred to as ‘dance squads’? When is the last time you saw one of these women actually “lead a cheer”? And, after all the practice, rehearsals, etc., a NFL or NBA cheerleader would be luck to earn minimum wage. They are eye candy and nothing more. I’d send my daughter to the Cheetah before Philips Arena. If it’s about selling dignity, at least strippers earn top dollar. What are we “teaching” girls, that it is necessary to “compete” for the attention of males? That being attractive or beautiful is worthwhile form of competition? Now, if you think “dancing” is a worthwhile passtime, and if you get some health benefit out of it, I guess it’s better than sitting on the couch, but I’ve been to lots of NFL and NBA games and I don’t see this particular form of dancing to be aerobic activity.

MamaS

June 22nd, 2010
10:52 am

My oldest girl “chose” ballet at the age of 3. It was all she ever wanted to do, and she did ballet for the next 12 years, until a ballet instructor encouraged bullimia and I forced her to quit. Then she did musical theater for the next 3 years.
My second daughter tried ballet, gymnastics, riding, cheerleading, basketball and softball. She never really “took” at anything. Softball was her favorite, but she was too old to get on the school or rec teams and our church did not always have a team.
My bonus baby is 7. He has tried soccer, swimming, basketball and track. He likes soccer the best, but he is excellent in track — if only I could find a team for 7-year-olds!

Eddie Cochran

June 22nd, 2010
10:56 am

C’mon folks, it’s not “hating”. What socialization skills are developed in “being a diva”? The problem is, when a parent – usually a mom – encourages her daughter to be a competitive cheerleader, she is not allowing “a kid to be a kid”. She is encouraging dysfunctional and unhealthy behavior.

Denise

June 22nd, 2010
10:56 am

It’s easy to have a “meh” attitude toward sports when you are not athletically inclined or interested in a particular sport. (That’s how I feel about cheerleading! When your team sucks how can you say “We’re #1” with a straight face? LOL) I have a personal bias against having kids invest so seriously in sports that their lives revolve around them. These kids become adults that can’t function without their sport. Case in point, me vs. my brother.
I played volleyball from 7th grade thru freshman year in college. Was I great? Heck no! I’m 5’6”. None of the teams I played for were even good except for 8th grade. I played because I enjoyed it. It was good exercise. I stopped playing because I wasn’t that invested and I needed to study. I ran track in 6th and 7th grades. Was pretty fast but didn’t care much. I played softball in 8th grade and I SUCKED! Horrible. Couldn’t hit worth jack. But I made the team because I could throw from center field to home plate without a cut off. I was useful on defense but sucked on offense. I only touched the bases when I walked. Needless to say, that was a wrap. I went to a nerd high school with no basketball and football so there was no cheerleading. We had golf, track, gymnastics, volleyball, and soccer. We were NERDS…I was in an engineering program. I say all this to say that I couldn’t get that invested in sports because I wasn’t that good. I played for fun and exercise.
My brother, on the other hand, was great in everything he played except for basketball. He was so invested in baseball. He was used to being the best; he didn’t realize that basically everyone in college was the best in their high schools. He couldn’t wrap his mind around not being the top dog. When he didn’t succeed in baseball in college he was so thrown off his path that he quit school. He didn’t know what to do without baseball. At 30 he is just now working in a job making $14.75/hour when he is actually smarter than I am.

TechMom

June 22nd, 2010
11:00 am

My son is 15 and has tried just about every sport or activity we could get him into. My theory- if you never try it, how will you know if you like it or if you’ll be good at it? The one sport he didn’t try until he was in middle school that was difficult to pick up then was baseball. There are kids who literally have played since they were 3 or 4. He wanted to play when he was little and we wouldn’t let him b/c it’s so time intensive. I don’t like the fact that even the rec teams for t-ball and baseball practice 2-3 days and have 2-3 games a week. I personally like to have a life outside of my kid’s activities. Anyway, he did fine for a first year player but since most of the kids had been playing for several years, he wasn’t as good and just didn’t have the confidence to go back for season 2. Instead he went back to roller hockey for his spring sport this year.

He never tried wrestling until he was in 7th grade (quite frankly, I didn’t realize how big of a sport it was for little kids until then). He’s done quite well in it even though he doesn’t really like the practices but since he is good, we continue to encourage him to stick with it. Plus it’s a winter sport and there’s not much else to play except basketball which he doesn’t like (found that out after 3 seasons that he was only playing to appease me- I love basketball!)

In 9th grade he decided not to play football, which he’s played every fall since he was 6. But he hadn’t had a chance to play soccer in a couple of seasons so he decided to play soccer last fall instead and now he’s decided to go back to football this year.

We never let him quit anything mid-stream. He’s always had to play the whole season to see if he really liked it. There were years when he didn’t like the team he was on even tho he loved the sport. He has wanted to quit Scouts but I won’t let him quit that. Mostly b/c he’s come so far that he doesn’t have much further until he gets his Eagle at which point I told him he could decide how often he wants to attend or if he just wants to go for the fun stuff (camp outs, high-adventure activities, etc.) but even in Scouts we find lots of families who ONLY do Scouts just like there are families who only do soccer or only do baseball. Maybe we’re the ones lacking in some passion! :)

Camille

June 22nd, 2010
11:03 am

My oldest son has done soccer, baseball, karate, football and basketball. He was good in baseball, but the game was too slow for him, so he just didn’t want to continue playing anymore. In football, he played the first year that he was old enough to play and didn’t like getting hit, so he never played again after that season. And, with soccer and karate, he just never really took to those. So, by about 5th grade or so, he had essentially narrowed it down to basketball, which he is really good at it, and it looks like this is what we are sticking to with him

Now, my 4 year old has grown up watching his big brother play basketball, and just from playing around with the basketball on the sidelines while big brother was practicing, he is on track to be even better than big brother. This year will be the first year that he can actually play on a basketball rec team (he’ll be 5 next month), but he will also try the other sports. He played peanut baseball this past season, and is very good in that as well. He’s expressed an interest in soccer and football, so we will try those out also, once it’s time (football has to wait until he’s 6). In addition, he is very fast, so at some point I want to have him try track and see how he does.

For those kids that have multiple interests, I think that is fine. But, some kids, like my oldest, just gravitate to one sport. I’d always felt that by middle school, a child should know exactly where their interests lie, and that’s what happened with my oldest. So, we’ll go the same route with my youngest and see what happens, although I think that he will be a multiple interest child.

JATL

June 22nd, 2010
11:12 am

I believe in trying a variety of sports/activities at young ages to see what “sticks” so to speak. Of course if one of my boys is 8 and has played soccer for years and then decides he wants to try football or baseball or piano -that’s fine too! Right now we’re just concentrating on trying some different stuff (tried basketball in winter -no go), trying soccer in fall and baseball next spring -if he really likes one of them, we’ll concentrate on that. We’re also going to try swim team at some point because he’s like a little fish. I’m also talking to him about a musical instrument. He really enjoys music, so he may go completely in that direction or do both. My youngest is still too young for anything other than some dancing and ball throwing! Whatever we do, I only want them involved in one athletic and one non-athletic activity a piece. I do NOT want my kids constantly scheduled with no free time.

And for all you cheerleader haters -I agree that they can be squeally and annoying and some people love to make fun of them, but I had the MOST unlikely task many years ago of being the JV cheer coach at a hot-shotty East Cobb high school. I am NOT the cheerleading type! However, those girls worked out harder and were in better shape than most of our male athletes. They practiced and worked out before school and after and actually beat our varsity squad in state competition! I really realized the athletic component of cheerleading during that stint. The ones who are serious and who compete ARE athletes!

TechMom

June 22nd, 2010
11:13 am

Camille – while I think it’s nice if kids know where there interests lie by middle school, it’s different for every kid. Just like most kids don’t really know what they want to major in when they get to college or change their minds along the way.

I never played soccer until I was an adult. My son playing when he was little gave me an interest and then I was asked to join an adult league. Sometimes you aren’t given the opportunity to play when you are little… I’m also going to sign up for tennis lessons this fall. Never played before but now that I finally have time to do something I want, I’m going to give it a whirl.

Lori

June 22nd, 2010
12:08 pm

I think however many sports your child can play and your schedule can handle can’t be a bad thing. My son plays soccer, but is interested in martial arts. I’m still trying to work out the logistics so he can do both. But he also plays tennis with his dad and when old enough will be getting lessons.

I wasn’t given a real opportunity as a kid to explore sports and I wish I had been. So now, I feel clumsy and stupid whenever I try anything new, like tennis with dad!!

About the cheering thing, why are hating so much?? I wasn’t a cheerleader, but was on the dance team in school. I didn’t do it because it was popular, I just liked to dance. Since I wasn’t good at any sport involving hitting any flying objects with any type of stick, it was the only real option for me to get some regular exercise that I enjoyed. Competitive cheering is way more than standing on the sidelines cheering for a team, its about the competitions you go to. It’s a lot of fun.

Robin

June 22nd, 2010
12:14 pm

Baseball and football are definitely two sports that you need to start at an early age. Every age group or level, starting at an early age, their are certain skills you need to possess continue on to the next level of the sport. It is very sad to see a 9 year old start kid pitch baseball with few skills and little knowledge of the game. These kids usually sit the bench or play outfield, even at the rec level because of safety. I agree that once kids reach about middle school, they start to weed out sports and activities they don’t like.

Parents need to start kids at an early age with as many activites (not just sports) as the child and family can “reasonably handle”. Financial concerns need to have an impact. I have seen many parents spend (waste) money pushing their kids to play upper level sports when they don’t have the money. These parents live too much through their children and act is if the kid will be destined for a college scholarship.

Lets also not forget the impact pushing the oldest, etc to excell has on the younger siblings. We recently played with a family that had 2 babies that were taken to every practice and game even in extreme weather conditions. Mom was constantly complaining about not being able to watch her “jock kid” play because of the “whining babies”.

More often than not its the Parents that need to get their act together. Parents can have a profound negative impact on their kid and their success in any sport based on their actions and behavior.

JATL

June 22nd, 2010
12:23 pm

@Wow -what’s the big deal about using “plethora”? I use it quite frequently. It’s really not that big of a word or a unique or special word.

Young@heart

June 22nd, 2010
12:27 pm

Interesting topic today….my husband has our boy at the Braves open tryouts today at the Rome Braves stadium….I say they play way to much but when I try to slow it down I’m told that I am “over protective” or “holding him back” HE’S 16! Has anyone else had the problem where one parent is all in and the other says slow down…who would be right? The boy loves baseball but I worry about the burnout factor. Currently he’s playing with the High School, a travel team and these little excursions-clinics he finds. My husband is one of those men who think he will get a scholarship or maybe into the minors or further. Who doesn’t like to dream a little… Who knows what if he’s right? Our boy is always in the local newpapers and since a young age has been recruited by travel leagues with no cost to us just because they want him on the team.

JJ

June 22nd, 2010
12:28 pm

KUDOS to all us parents who got our kids up off the sofa and away from the tv and computer games!!!!!!

KUDOS to all us parents who have driven, stayed, cheered, etc our kids on. KUDOS to those of us who have frozen our butts off in “spring” practices, and sweated like pigs on those hot sunny days, in order to support our kids!!!!!!

I miss the ball park. My daughter played softball for about 5 years, and I really miss it.

abc

June 22nd, 2010
12:44 pm

One son excelled at swimming, professionally coached from age 6. By age 14 he was top 3 in the SE in several events, and could beat 18-20 year olds in distance events. But, he’d been pushed by his mother too hard, his coaches wanted ever more effort and time, and at 14 he quit altogether. He’d been recruited by Auburn, Tennessee and GA since he’d been 10 and 11 years old. Don’t push your kids into stuff like that.

He and his brothers all took to music at age 5-6. Now in their 20’s, they still play professionally. Tennis and golf can also be life-long activities, and basketball, to at least some extent, and are worth the concentration. Football, baseball and other sports can contribute greatly to lifelong athleticism, but too much focus on them at too young an age can actually be physically detrimental for a child. Don’t push them. Let them follow their own interests.

Becky

June 22nd, 2010
12:52 pm

@Eddie..I always thought the same about the Playboy Playmates..I just don’t understand them..Lots of them don’t ever wind up rich (& or) famous do they..

@Denise..I have a brother that is a lot like your, except that he is awesome at basketball as well as baseball and golf..He has a higher than normal IQ, yet never really made the effort to go to far in life..So now at the age of 63, he’s doing what he loves, playing golf and gettting paid for it..

As was mentioned, I think that sometimes parents push the child to much, which makes the child not so interested..So if your child is involved in lots of stuff, more power to you and them if it works out for y’all..

@JJ..Have a former coworker that posted pictures of her six year old son on FB and he weighs 135 lbs..Holly cow..I didn’t weigh that much unitl I was maybe 32 years old..Then, she posts that shes ready for them to go back to school..Maybe they should all be out walking, then they mght not be so bored..

meme's mommy

June 22nd, 2010
1:02 pm

re: cheerleading, i think it’s a sport like any other. sure, there are no professional leagues, but for the girls who take to it there IS the possibility of college scholarships. (meme’s Godmother coaches and she’s had about half her girls go on to D-1 schools on full scholarships..that’s nothing to sneeze at!)my whole thought in getting the little one involved at 16mos (yes, we started gymnastics at 16mos) was that i wanted her to get used to being involved in something…not just going to school/daycare and coming home. hopefully, i’m encouraging her to lead an active, physical life for years to come.

Robin

June 22nd, 2010
1:08 pm

Young@heart Sounds like you have your head on straight and as long as you and hubby “agree to disagree” I think you’ll be fine. As long as your son has a true passion with realistic expectations he’ll be fine too.

Now the part about “recruited by travel leagues with no cost to us just because they want him on the team” is a bit concerning. You have to be vigilent with this because many of these high octane travel teams can be extremely disfuntional. Overuse of pitching arms, borderline psychotic coaches and bully players (and parents!!!) seem to run rampant with these types of teams. I have seen too many horror stories with these dream teams – BE CAREFUL! Nothing is free without a price to pay!

Becky

June 22nd, 2010
1:20 pm

@Lori..I wouldn’t say that I’m a hater for cheerleading, I just am not sure where it may or may not take you after high school or college..

TechMom

June 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

Just picked up the boy and one of his friends from football conditioning. Some days I really hate that they have these workouts 3 days a week during the summer and then part of me, like today, realized why they do them… I walked up today to the field and another mom was standing there watching the boys. She’s literally talking as if her son was standing next to her (”C’mon sweetie, you can do it. Good, good. OK, get up. Yep, don’t give up. C’mon, hustle!”) It didn’t take long to figure out who her son was. Turns out he’s going into 9th grade and never played football before. He’s significantly overweight and out of shape. Lucky for him he’ll actually get a chance to play some on this team b/c they are a small private school and don’t have a lot of players. But even the mom readily admit that she regrets never having pushed her son to be more active after only talking to me for a few minutes.

I guess my point to all this is like JJ’s – Kudos to all the parents who have tried to get their kids active, moving and involved while they’re young. Hopefully it’s not too late for this kid and he’ll get to realize some of the benefits of working hard, getting fit and living a healthier lifestyle before it’s too late.

Young@heart

June 22nd, 2010
1:37 pm

Robin… You are correct about the bully parents…I can no longer sit in the stands when I go to a game I have to be in the outfield or somewhere away from earsho for 1 if my son does really well that game people won’t speak to me but if he has an off game then all the sudden I’m their best friend? Whats with that?…. My husband is very protective of our boy it drives coaches crazy. We had one coach try to ignore him and only speak to our boy and found out quickly that he has to go through dad first.

I love the Direct Tv commercial where the dad calls the player in the dugout and critiques him during a game, that will be him to our boy if ever…..

Lori

June 22nd, 2010
1:41 pm

Becky, who cares where cheering would take you after college. My son plays soccer but I don’t expect him to play professionally or even at the college level. I expect him to play, BECAUSE HE LOVES PLAYING and for no other reason. The day he doesn’t love it, we’ll find another sport. If your daughter has fun cheering, then why the heck not let her cheer!