Kids Are Under Too Much Athletic Pressure

In the United States, 21.5 million youth between the ages of 6 to 17 play sports on a regular basis. According to Don Sabo, a longtime youth sports researcher and professor at D’Youville College in Buffalo, 45% of those kids involved in sports had quit from at least one team. Kids are quitting for many different reasons: lack of talent, lack of interest, laziness, but mostly pressure. Today’s generation of kids are under too much athletic pressure.

As more children and teens are getting involved in sports, school is getting increasingly harder. Handling sports and school can be very difficult. The older we get, the harder classes get. The more sports you are involved in, the more stress you are under. Trying to balance school and sports can be very hard.

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With common core being applied in more grade levels and more required courses, school is a lot harder than it ever has been. Recent studies show that students athletes have higher grades than students who do not participate in sports. But this doesn’t mean less athletic pressure is on them so they can focus on grades, it actually means there is more pressure to have good grades so they are allowed to participate in sports. Most schools won’t allow students who are failing at least two classes to participate in any school sports. Kids are under pressure to keep their heads above the water in two ponds at once. As more pressure is being put on kids, they are dropping out of sports.

70% of children involved in sports at a young age quit by the age of 13. As sports become more intense children give up and quit. They quit because of loss of interest, lack of talent, laziness, and pressure. If a child doesn’t have passion and love the sport why should they stay involved and have unnecessary stress put on them. The majority of the pressure kids are under is from their parents.

Wendy Grolnick, co-author of “Pressured Parents, Stressed out Kids: Dealing With Competition While Raising a Successful Child” and professor of psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts, said parents still can be highly involved with a child team without pressuring or pushing. In fact, its when they find balance that their children are most likely to enjoy sports and persist at them. “Parents are put in in all this money and time and they think that if they go all out for their child, they’ll see a light at the end of a tunnel in the form of a college scholarship.” Parents should be involved in their child’s sport. But it is important to do so in a way that isn’t pressuring them.

If parents want us to stay in sports they need to learn how to control the pressure depending on the kids personality. Parents need to give constant support and excitement regardless of the outcome of the game. If parents are the people kids look up to the most and we trust them the most, why are they putting unhealthy pressure on us and causing us to quit a sport we may love? Parents aren’t the only adult figures who control a child’s sport career. Coaches can have a bigger impact on a child than their parents can have. It’s a coach’s responsibility to make sure you are doing your best, so they put pressure on you so you perform they way they believe you can.

But most of the time they put too much pressure on the kids who can’t handle it not knowing. Coaches have such high expectations for their athletes it causes them to question their abilities and boundaries when they don’t perform how the coaches wanted. That causes a lot of stress on them. All of this pressure and stress causes health problems. “Too much pain, too little gain.

” Depending on the sport, at least one third of athletes are injured each season. Student athletes then have the pressure and feeling that they let their team down. When athletes get injured majorly or minorly it greatly affects them. They get so focused on sports and the pressure just gets to be too much. After they heal they usually don’t bother coming back to sports.

Competition has become more intense; knowledge, equipment, and coaches haven’t caught up. Student athletes are required to do so many things and they are looked up to by other students. They have responsibilities at school, at home, and on the field. That is an awful lot to ask of a child. The stress adds up from each thing and it causes athletes to crumble.

Why do parents think it is healthy to have their children under that crazy amount of pressure and stress? Most parents believe sports are a key piece of childhood. All sports bring the unavoidable road of injuries and stress. It’s how you handle it that matters. Not all kids who are under athletic pressure crumble. Some athletes perform better while under pressure. They use the pressure from parents, coaches, and teammates as fuel to help focus on winning and doing their best.

When athletes are under a lot of pressure it forces them to step up and perform better. Pressure is simply an illusion. “Pressure is a feeling that is created by ourselves when we react to how people treat us and events that go on around us.” Depending on your personality you either handle pressure well or poorly. Olympian Shawn Johnson is one of the best gymnasts in the world. You would never know but she struggled with self image.

The gymnastic world praised small, thin, and strong young girls. Shawn was beautiful even though the world and her past coaches didn’t make her feel that way. She was small but not small enough. She was strong but not strong enough. She was under so much pressure from coaches and other gymnasts around her that she didn’t believe in herself anymore.

So many people told her she could never be good enough but she pushed through the stress and expectations and made it to the Olympics. But even when she was at the Olympics, she didn’t feel like she deserved to be there. Nastia Liukin was competing the same year with her. Everyone said to Shawn, why can’t you be tall and graceful like Nostia! Shawn still struggles with self image and confidence today because of the pressure and expectations the world put on her. Bottom line, kids are under too much athletic pressure. More and more kids are dropping out of sports and it’s causing them to not care about anything, including school.

Then their grades drop and they fall into a pit un-enthusiastic behavior. Parents and coaches need to learn how their kids handle pressure and work with them to find the best way to do their best. What if the kids that quit sports when they were little because of the pressure had the potential talent to play D1 in college or even be in the Olympics?