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Youth Sports - How Much Is Too Much?

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes engages coaches and athletes to grow in their faith and sport.

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Youth Sports - How Much Is Too Much?

Did you know that there are more children/teens playing youth sports (club, leagues, non school sports) than those playing in the local school sports here in the United States?

This week in Dallas there will be over 15,000 young girls across the U.S. competing in the Volleyball Jr. Olympics (National Volleyball Finals). Many of those middle and high school aged girls have been playing competitive volleyball for 7-8 months in a row to get to this event this week. Parents have made financial sacrifices to support their child's love of volleyball throughout the many weekend trips and several days a week in practice during that time.

Some parents see this as an opportunity to improve their child’s skills to hopefully one day get a college scholarship and, with tuition prices these days, who can blame them. Some parents just want to support their child’s love of the sport and this may be the only competitive sports opportunity through high school.

I can't speak from experience but, as an outsider looking in, I can image the pressure that children and parents face when it comes to how much youth sports is too much. At what point does a parent step in when they see their child struggling with over-training? The following excerpt might be helpful:

Signs of Over-training

- Slower times in distance sports such as running, cycling, and swimming
- Deterioration in execution of sports plays or routines such as those performed in figure skating and gymnastics
- Decreased ability to achieve training goals
- Lack of motivation to practice
- Getting tired easily
- Irritability and unwillingness to cooperate with teammates

Unfortunately, the tendency parents and coaches have when confronted with signs of over-training is to push the child harder. But if over-training is the culprit, any increase in training will only worsen the situation.

Training too much may eventually lead to overuse injuries in which actual damage to the bones and soft tissues occurs because the body can't recover from the repetitive physical demands placed on it by sport activity.

U.S. Youth Soccer Coaches Connection- to read the full article, go to: www.usyouthsoccer.org

For those of you who want your child to be able to balance youthful fun, competitive sports, education and spiritual growth, there are challenges to face. Because many Sundays are filled with tournaments, as a Christian parent, how do you put "Christ first" in your life and guide your children to do the same?

Last week we completed our 3rd Annual Sports Leadership Camp at DBU. 135 high school athletes from across DFW came together from all walks of life and sports. There were volleyball, basketball, golf, football, cross country, tennis, baseball, competitive cheer & softball athletes learning additional skills and competing alongside students not from their same team. They learned what true character and leadership was about. They discussed in small groups with college athletes the frustrations and joys of trying to get excellent grades, having fun with friends while at the same time trying to be the best athlete they can to make the team or compete at a higher level.

Spiritually these 135 athletes were challenged to be bold in sharing their faith, their desire to say no to the temptations that will drag them down and away from peace with God. 35 made a first time commitment to walk in faith with Christ and surrender their actions and soul to Him.

Is there such a thing as too much sports related activities for teens? Absolutely! Can there be a balance? Sure! It is not just the parents and coaches "job" to make it happen, but here at FCA we are finding out that even teenagers are learning for themselves what is too much.

Compete hard, strong, with excellence. Train and push the muscles to stretch and grow. But know when to say, today as a family or individual we/I will start my day putting God first. Today I will grow and stretch and strive to achieve spiritual/godly excellence. Today I will pursue balance in my life.

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