Right, J. Sterner! Parents should me most careful when their child isn't having fun anymore, or when they themselves get disappointed because their child didn't "win". I was a team physician for Pop Warner football, and I also handled the on-field training duties one autumn a few years back. I was most interested in why the head coach wanted to play his son at quarterback when his son's ankles were so badly and chronically sprained he could barely walk, let alone run or plant to make a pass. His son was so relieved when I arrived since taping both ankles was the first relief he had had in weeks, perhaps months. He didn't dare complain because his father wouldn't have it. I approached his mother and she was simply in denial. I finally confronted the father/coach and he threatened to have me removed. I complained to the league president and later resigned. I might have called D.S.S. and made a complaint of child abuse, but action was soon taken against the father by the league. He was banned from coaching any sport for quite some time for another incident.
Interesting was that his son was more interested in what I was doing to help injuries than he was in football. His son is now a certified athletic trainer. Bad story turned good.
Interesting too is that when I read about "sports-specific" training, I am amused. the only "sports-specific" training I know of is the sport itself. I think it's a very good idea to expose children to all types of movement and sports, from dance, games and play to organized sports. They are all important. A variety of movement patterns is necessary to provide a healthy experience. So focusing on only ONE sport is generally not a good idea, even if the child shows some aptitude or talent. Besides, if a child really is that good, the responsible parents will quickly learn the value of "cross-training", where the missing movement patterns are introduced anyway. For example, if the child is a gifted runner (like a Steve Prefontaine, say), then movement patterns that incorporate lateral movements not provided by running are necessary. I could write a book just about that (actually, I am writing a book about that right now). The important thing for children is, first and foremeost, FUN! After that, it's human movement pattern training through games and play, and then drills and more difficult exercises as the child ages and begins to enjoy it at a higher, more developed level.
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