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Kids should play multiple sports

Kids should play more than one sport 

   A big issue that always comes up at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies is the frequency of training for the kids and should kids play other sports. There is a fine line to walk for both issues. You have the safety of the kids as the number one issue. You also have the desire for them to improve as much as possible  and as quickly as possible. A third issue is that you have some gym owners/youth sports coaches that are only worried about their bottom line and not what is best for their students overall growth and safety. This is the most problematic for families and runs rampant throughout youth sports. This really shows itself when coaches almost, if not outright, demand that kids play year round in their sport.

  The ultimate responsibility of running an academy is the safety of your members. This is especially true when it comes to running a youth program. Even though every drill and every roll comes with a risk of injury, it is the coach's responsibility to mitigate this risk as much as possible. This is not always such an easy task while dealing with kids, but there are some coaches, no matter the sport, that feel like they have to make it tough. All of the sudden it's their responsibility to "Make men" out of a kid's bjj class, football or wrestling practice. Just as an aside tip the coaches---this makes zero business sense. If the kids don't enjoy your product, they won't be there long. This doesn't mean that you're running a daycare and its playtime all day, but it is your responsibility to find the median where fun and hard work intersect. If your coach, no matter the sport, seems to be out of control or recklessly getting players hurt during practice, you need to stand up and act. Again, this doesn't mean that coaches can't be stern, but you need to always be vigilant as to how the coaches interact with the players. A kid's class or practice isn't boot camp. The kids should have a level of fun mixed with training. 

  This brings us to a horrible problem in youth sports. So called coaches almost requiring kids to play on their travel teams and year round training in their sport. These coaches love to brag about scholarship opportunities for college or even more. I always ask friends a few questions that have this problem--Who is this coach? What are his credentials? It seems as if this year round youth training industry has popped up overnight. So, where did all of these experts come from? Who are they? What makes them qualified to make any claim? Have them show you the actual scholarship money their past players have received. Not just numbers of scholarships, but actual dollars. It's usually so miniscule that it's laughable when you think about the cost of training year round for this specialist for years vs the cost of college tuition. Only about 2% of high school athletes receive any athletic scholarship and those average less than a total of $11,000. There are only six sports where all athletes receive full scholarships. All others are divided up any way the coach deems. 

  As we touched on safety earlier, there's the problem with injuries while training one sport. So, you have a coach pressuring you to play only one sport. I'll quote NFL All-Pro defensive lineman, JJ Watt---"If someone encourages your child to specialize in a single sport, that person generally doesn't have your child's best interest in mind." It seems like this relationship benefits the coach the most. We could get into all of the shady characters that have infiltrated youth sports, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2016/07/10/sports/youth-sports-embezzlement-by-adults.amp.html but let's just look at the injuries. There is zero doubt that playing one sport leads to more injuries for your child. According to a recent study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids under 18 who specialize in one sport are 81 percent more likely to experience an overuse injury than kids who play a variety of sports! 

  You can also look to the real professionals when it comes to this topic. In 2017, 30 of the 32 picks in the first round of the NFL draft played multiple sports.  We can also listen to Tom Brady. "What I remember from being in youth sports, everything was really localized. My parents always exposed us to different things, different sports. It was basketball when it was basketball season, it was baseball when it was baseball season. I didn’t play football ’til I was a freshman in high school. But I just played in the neighborhood in our street with all the kids that we grew up with." It doesn't get more definitive than that. 

  So, think long and hard about sticking your kid into a sport where the coach wants them to play year round. There are a lot of other factors to consider besides the chance at a scholarship. There is a huge time commitment. This time commitment usually ends up disrupting the entire family---not just the athlete. Many times the other kids get dragged to these events and miss out on their own activities. There is a huge monetary commitment also. So, you'll have to roll the dice and hope for the very small chance at a partial scholarship will come from your huge investment. Also, how will you feel when your child comes to you and no longer wants to play this sport? How will you react? What types of people do you want to be in charge of your kids for so long? Coaches that really want to broaden your kids or people that are willing to risk your time, money and kid's health for their own gain? So, before you sign up for the travel team, please ask yourselves all of these questions. For the huge majority of people, the decision should be to let your kids play in as many sports as they like. So, most should just let your kids train hard and have fun.

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