10 signs that youth sports are too important to your family

By Janis Meredith | Posted 5/26/2016

I love youth sports. I was consumed by my kids’ sports adventures for 21 years. I was an avid supporter of my husband’s teams while he coached for 29 years.

But there is such a thing as overkill, and it’s pretty obvious that many youth sports parents – and kids, too –  have gone way overboard when it comes to youth sports.

Do you see any of these signs in your home?

  • You and your kids don’t have a lot of conversations that aren’t about sports. It dominates your dinner table, your car rides and just about every other casual conversation.
  • You have trouble sleeping, because you’re worried about your child’s sports struggles. It’s called worry, and as much as I’ve done it over the years, I can attest to the fact that it does absolutely no good at all.
  • You forego family vacations because every summer weekend is filled with tournaments. I get the whole travel ball lifestyle. I’ve had three kids play club. But there comes a time when you have say no and put family over sports.
  • You assume that your child will play sports through middle school, high school and even into college, without even discussing it with him or her. Is it what you want, or what your child wants?
  • You are more concerned about your child’s playing time than you are with your child’s grades. This is not to say that you don’t care about your child’s grades, but you find that you are way more upset at the coach for keeping your kid on the bench for too long than you are if your child gets a low test grade or shows signs of grades slipping.
  • You are stressed about every game that your child plays. I was nervous many times for my kids as they played, so I know many of you are, too. But when you let that cause you to be stressed–irritable, edgy and distracted from people – and you have trouble really enjoying the game – you’ve probably carried it a bit too far.
  • You discourage your child from trying non-sports interests because they are just too busy with youth sports. Remember this: There is more to life than sports. Encourage your child to find other interests. More often, this will keep him from sports burn out and raise his enjoyment of his sport.
  • You have your young child on more than one team at a time, or you feel your child always must be playing a sport. Leave time for your child to just be a kid with free, unstructured time.
  • You are afraid to say no to any sports opportunity, worried that your child will fall behind other players who say “yes” to the same opportunities. Keeping up with the Joneses is not a good reason for your child to play sports. The only reason he or she should play is for enjoyment of the game. I’m not saying your child won’t have to work hard to see results, but that hard work does not have to come in the form of playing for every travel team or going to every sports camp.
  • You are constantly nagging your child to work hard and practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Take it from a mom who’s struggled with nagging her kids: It does not work. It only puts up barriers and causes friction in the relationship.

If you see any of these signs, take a step back and focus on the bigger picture of the value of youth sports.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. Her new booklet, “11 Habits for Healthy and Positive Sports Parents,”is available on Amazon. She has a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.