Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kids and Sport- When is it too much?

My kids are starting to get to an age where playing sports is on their agenda. The two eldest started Little Athletics last year and had a ball. It is now wrapped up for the year and my eldest son has started to play football (Rugby League). He is excited about playing the same sport as his daddy, whilst I am just hoping that his teeth don't suffer the same fate as his fathers...

But the other thing that has been on my mind lately is just how much time kids train for their sports each week. Now for footy it is only 1 hour per week on a Thursday afternoon and then the games on the weekend. But for sports like Surf Life Saving I am hearing of kids of around the age of 11 training up to 11-12 hours hours per week. And quiet frankly, I think that is just insane!

When do these kids get down time?

When are they allowed to just be kids? 

I mean it is all well and good if the kids are enjoying it, but I ask how long is it going to take for them to burn out and lose the joy of it? How long before their school work suffers?

I have heard about (and seen) this type of insane training hours in young kids in other sports too. So I know it isn't just restricted to Surf Life Saving, that is just the most recent example I have heard. 

What do you think? Should there be a limit on how many hours a week kids can train for their sports? Oh, and I am talking pre-teen kids but the same thoughts could apply for any person under the age of 16 too... 


  1. Very interesting topic. We do Ballet or Jazz (one each) and swimming. Two things a week tops for us. Swimming is a must do until they can swim okay. After than maybe we'll move onto something else as well.

  2. Oh, I forgot to mention swimming, Caz. We do swimming too. It is 30 minutes a week, and again we treat it as a must. I guess that's why I didn't include it into our tally.

    Mahli wants to do Ballet, but we are putting that off until next year when she is 5.

  3. I wish I could get my kids a little more involved in sports, but as I am a shift worker (RN) and their Dad is a shift worker (emergency services)it is so difficult to commit! I am hoping to pick swimming back up for them next term, fingers crossed.
    Can I just say too, it is an especially important topic today, just over an hour or so ago, the body of a 14 year old surf life saver was found up here on the Gold Coast. He disappeared during a competition board paddle race shortly before the comp ended late yesterday evening. Just devastating to lose a young life when he is just doing the sport he loved, his family and friends very much in our thoughts and hearts today.
    Sorry to burden your post with such heavy and sad news, I just felt he deserved a mention xxx

    1. I was just reading that news article. My thoughts are with his family and everyone involved. It is such sad news of a life taken too soon.

      I have had this post scheduled for a few days, and now feel the timing is off...

  4. Oh wow, 12 hours a week is crazy. Mine do swimming, ballet (A), soccer training and games (S).

  5. my kids aren't that interested in sport. I had suggested little aths for our big boy, but my husband didn't want to commit to the parent help portion - now I'm a joey and cub scout leader! talk about irony! right now for us, scouts is enough for the kids, the little ones are eager to start when they turn six, and the big one is about to move from cubs up to scouts, and looking forward to "doing more stuff" (his words)

  6. We do a range of things. Amahli & Jackson do Nippers (surf life saving) during the season, but there's is only a few hours on a Sunday morning every fortnight or so, that season has just finished up. (It's a lovely way to spend Sunday mornings too, at the beach and they love it!)
    All three do Little Athletics at the same time of year, and that's just finished up too. So that's a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon.
    Amahli does dancing one afternoon a week, which is 45 minutes
    All 3 do swimming lessons (but like you I count that as a not negotiable must do)
    Jackson will start soccer soon, so that will be an hour training and our game per week.
    They were doing horse riding once a week for half an hour too, but that's more intermittent now.
    At the moment I'm trying to figure out something for Byron to do that will encourage him to interact with other kids a little better, but as much as I want to put him into soccer, I can't be in 2 places at once on a Saturday morning :(
    Being homeschooled though, we ensure they have access to doing as many extra curricular activities that they wish, and that allows them to build great friendships with the same children often doing more than one activity with them.
    As for Surf Life Saving, I think the children you are referring to who commit that amount of time, would be those interested in competing at higher levels, and being active life guards on our beaches. As we witnessed this week, no matter how good the skills, tragedies happen. The thing with SLS, is that lots of training and experience is needed, and I think you'll find most if not all of those kids train that hard because they love it and those same kids will probably become the heroic people that save lives.
    I know at our local surf club there are kids that are brilliant SLS competitors and they often come from families where parents are volunteer surf life savers and it's just their lifestyle to grow up that way.
    I think as long as we all listen to our kids and what they want/need it will work out ok :)

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Ree. I agree that most of them do it because they love it. And I think it is great that they do.

      I guess it is more the kids that don't love it. The ones that do it because it is expected of them. And I am not just talking about SLS, I have seen it across a lot of sports...

      Anyhow, thanks so much for your comment. It really is food for thought



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