ever wonder what's going through the mind of a coach or a parent when you see this happening in youth sports we can all imagine what's going through the mind of the child imagine what's going through the mind of the child when their sole focus is on play sometimes us adults are the biggest obstacles from letting our kids enjoy sports and getting them to play it longer this is me growing up I would I would run around the house with a soccer ball at my feet bouncing it off this wall on that wall pretending I'm scoring watch the dismay of my parents and maybe a broken window or – I love baseball – I do some of the same things I go downstairs throw the throw the ball right off the wall and pretend I'm making these most spectacular catches you know because I'm a super serious athlete Oh growing up my five sisters and I played soccer in the fall yeah I thought that might get allowed we played we played soccer in the fall in winter we played baseball or softball in the spring and we and we golfed swam and rode horses in the in the summer we played what we were playing when we were playing it and we were loving it none of these sports for year-end folk we were year around focus areas for us we put our parents saw the value in having us play different sports during different sports seasons with each sport getting it's getting its focus they instilled in us that sports matter kids love them and it's important to create the conditions to allow kids to love different sports in different sports seasons there's this myth out there that just because a kid loves one sport that they need to play it year-round this myth of earthly need to specialize your kids younger and younger the only thing that was year-round in our household was my dad worked 12 hours a day seven days a week mom organized us and cheered us on and we were loving the sport we were playing when we were playing it I was I was never playing soccer in the summer I wasn't picking up a bat in the fall and I certainly wasn't golfing in the winter I was playing what it was playing when I was playing it and I was loving every minute of it I've been in recent years I've been thinking back to my my experiences with sport as a kid and now in my roles as a teacher coach parent and organizer I when I was wondering why when do kids stop playing the game I mean we grew up loving sport and wondering how do we keep them in the game longer to teach them the valued skills that learning a skill in a sport gives you and the skills of being the the roles of being part of a team helps with you Malcolm Gladwell supports a theory that in order to be good at anything you need 10,000 hours of practice I've seen coaches sports specialists yes even some of our parents see this as the need to have them play sign them out for controls and excuse me sign them up for training clinics and tournaments year-round to focus on their dribbling their skating they're running their batting stance etc really what this does is just specialized as a kid to one sport it leads to overuse injuries and it eventually over time the decrease in motivation to want to even play the sport researcher Jessica Fraser Thomas suggests for most kids this strategy is a bust meaning it can lead to expert development but really what is the cost how many kids are we losing from a motivation and enjoyment perspective huge huge numbers as a coach in the elementary school system I'm realizing now that the kids that are on my court and in my field will be done in one to two years over 70% of them won't be even playing pick up another racquet and playing again as a coach this breaks my heart that 70% statistic I want kids to love sport as much as I do early my teaching career I struggled with over coaching kids instead of letting them own the moment I turn things into a semi-professional lead so to speak I I realized I was part of the group of adults that were doing more to keep kids from playing than from getting them to play I benched kids I played some kids more than other kids and I pinned my worth as a coach on whether or not we won or lost the game rather than rather than their enjoyment and development of in the game this is my boy he is six as parents my wife and I love watching our kids play sport but it scares me to think that maybe they only have five or six years left when they have so much joy when they play it now these thoughts creep into my mind and going am I giving my children enough options to feel success should they be in skating lessons now should they be in swimming lessons now so-and-so is doing this in this and this with their kid should we be doing that with our kids too are they being left behind the thoughts that come through my mind is reality is no no it's not no they're not they if we create the mindset and the drive to enjoy the moment that they're in they will love any sport that comes up to them I know where this comes from it comes from the influx of social media into our life we know more about a lot more things this includes what others parents have their kids signed up for this breeds a feeling of inadequacy in me and wondering should we be doing this for our kids too this quiet competition that I call it rears its ugly head on the sports field when you can overhear parents yelling run faster skate faster get your check get'em is this really helping kids want to play sport longer is this helping with their enjoyment of it as an adult I wouldn't want somebody constantly yelling over my shoulder at me to do all of these things I'm all for competition I love it I love it but it seems to me that the competition tends to be more about more between us parents to do better by our kids than our peers do we pin our worth as a parent on whether or not on whether or not we win or lose the game rather than on their enjoyment and development in the game so how do the kids feel really the most important question a lot of them fear they feel pressured they feel afraid they fear missing they fear missing practices they fear being late they fear being benched they fear that if they don't do the extras they will not be good enough and that when they and then they will eventually quit their fears mirror our fears and when we've had enough of something we just say we're done and when it's enough is enough it's not because they're not really good enough it's because it's because we haven't created the conditions in the mindset to allow them to enjoy the sport itself so how do we keep kids in the game I believe it comes to down to three things that I'm consistent consistently working on as a parent teacher and coach one we must support the the multi-sport athlete and let them love different sports in different sports seasons Wayne Gretzky baseball in the spring lacrosse in the summer number two we must ignore all these outside pressures it really is a race to nowhere only a micro percentage of our kids are going to make it in the pros and that fact has not changed in decades and three we must nurture their heart and their mind a mindset that sports are fun and no matter what happens on the field mom and dad will love you and how do we do this it's not as complicated as you might think it doesn't come doesn't come from yelling from the stands it doesn't come from benching kids it doesn't come from year-round training sessions it doesn't come from Oh giving kids more and more drills at home and on the practice field it come it doesn't come from continuous strategy sessions over and over it comes from letting kids own the moment it comes from letting kids it comes from creating an atmosphere of fun it comes from letting kids experience a variety of sports across multiple sports seasons it comes from words of encouragement and a belief in self it comes from a huddle before during and after a game it comes in the walk to the car in the car ride home it comes in a quiet moment it comes from your heart it comes from using encouraging words like these it comes when you ask a child did you have fun and listening to their response and then after they play stating to them I love watching you play and then asking them would you like a hot chocolate or a Slurpee let's keep our eyes and our hearts in the future of our schools and communities by nurturing the feeling kids get when they play different sports and different sports seasons this feeling will drive their passion to play more sports longer because it is fun and is fun to be invested in things that you care deeply about thank you

Youth in Sport – Keeping Kids in The Game | Hugh McDonald | TEDxLangleyED
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15 thoughts on “Youth in Sport – Keeping Kids in The Game | Hugh McDonald | TEDxLangleyED

  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    If you want kids to stay in sports, kill video games and social media. That simple. The quick endorphin rush from screens will surely beat out the hard-earned satisfaction gained from athletics. In any sport, there is down time. There is waiting. There is moving off the ball. All BORING compared to video games and screens. This is why U.S. surfing has fallen away from top tier dominance. Kids don't want to sit around in a lineup and wait for waves that may get snaked by other bigger surfers. Why do that when Grand Theft Auto can simply be turned on and rocked effortlessly. It is why the USMT can't qualify for the WC. If you want your kids to play sports, do them a favor, ban the screens, folks. BAN THEM. Tell them, go outside and play.

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    Sports are too competitive and I'm not good at it same with video games. But intelligent competition is fun, but no one around me likes them. It's just so boring. I don't like sports

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    Yeah and what about us the people that we have dedicated our lives to become Olympian’s or to create olympians to represent their countries ?i understand your point that’s for sure but I also grew up in an competitive and serious sports environment.
    I’m healthy ,I believe successful and very loving and caring.
    I stayed in sports as an athlete for 25 years and as a coach so far 13 years and even when I was overwhelmed I was trying to find by my self the solutions and that made me a strong and independent person since the age of 12 that I moved alone in the Olympic training center without my parents .
    I had 500 team mates from different sports in there all of us feeling the same way about it one sport was our thing and it was making us happy it was giving us joy and meaning to live and try to become the best athletes in the world .the joy was coming from the company ,the everyday eating together ,the once in a week movie night with the National team or even playing guitar and sing all together after 7 hours of practice in the same sport all year round for 8 years non stop all preparing for the next worlds or Olympics or international meets.
    We became stronger people ,we became self motivated ,we learned how to earn what we want and get what we deserve to have …..I see my athletes now and they have everything in the plate ,things that for us to have we had to earn them ….I’m sorry brother but I do care about kids loving sports and live their life healthy through it but I am also somebody who lived a healthy and tough but happy life through one sport and I still love it big time .
    Yes not everybody is made for the Olympics or to be in the top of the world …..but let me tell you that ,not everybody is not made for that too….
    Love your elementary school approach but there are people out there,kids like me,and we are many …..that we were or are 4 or 5 years old and she. We watch the great athletes our dna says I can beat them one day,I can be one of them the way that your dna says I want to be an elementary school teacher ,and that makes me really happy for you but also what I was born to do as well as the kids like me were born to do is not what u describe .with all the respect ,u should touch that subject too cause I really wanna hear your thoughts
    God bless

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    IT IS JUST A DAMN SPORT!COME ONE!!IT IS NOT GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD!

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    this white boy doesn't know what it takes to be great in something; he just wanna take it easy with the rest of the suburb middle class.

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    Just wonderful, I been tryin to find out about "child life specialist jobs chicago" for a while now, and I think this has helped. You ever tried – Elilan Coachify Domination – (should be on google have a look ) ? Ive heard some super things about it and my co-worker got amazing results with it.

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    There is no blanket answer for everyone. There are elite kids that can, want to and should spend there time on one sport. There are kids that love multiple sports. There are some that want to try many sports. There are some who could care less and are just there to play. And then there are some that really care about getting better and learning how to be the best. You're only speaking on one portion of the sports. Obviously you weren't the best player growing up which is okay. But because of that you shouldn't generalize that ALL kids should look at sports a certain way.

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    This message was brought to you from the bench. Holy smokes….

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    excellent message

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    How many of your kids were/are elite level athletes?There are no elite level gymnast who do multisports, none.

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    we need to teach our kids in a new way, they dont need to be specialist at early ages, they need to learn a lot of sport skills, as many as possible, and that only can be reached in the practice of multiple disciplines

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    I understand your message but you should always push your kids. The drive to be the best on and off the field will stay with them longer than any game. It's a life long lesson that some kids need to be taught how to over come and achieve. Bottom line push your kid's to be the best because life is full of competition . There are some who over coach their kid's. Teaching them to try to become perfect in all areas is impossible! But the practice of trying to be perfect is the best work ethic!!!!! Pushing them to be the best will be ok because they will teach them self's to love the game!!!!!!!

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  • July 28, 2019 at 9:52 am
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    Great message… attaboy!

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