The landscape of kids sports has changed immensely over the past thirty years. When I was a kid, there was a concept called “seasons”. I played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring, and a little of everything (including golf and tennis) in the summer. I loved all of them, and was decent enough to play all except soccer in high school. Now, we have 8 year-old kids being told that they need to give up other sports to focus on one. Why?
I recently read a great article recently written by John O’Sullivan of the Changing the Game Project (here is the link: http://changingthegameproject.com/is-it-wise-to-specialize/), and found some staggering statistics but keyed in on this particular stat the most:
- A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialized early in a single sport led to higher rates of adult physical inactivity. Those who commit to one sport at a young age are often the first to quit, and suffer a lifetime of consequences.
The most important principle that we can follow in introducing our kids to sports, regardless of what those sports are, is for them to HAVE FUN!!! We want to develop active kids who are going to remain active throughout their lives. The last thing I want to do, as a parent or a coach, is make a sport so stressful or difficult for kids that they quit.
So this brings us back to our initial question: why golf and tennis? We want our kids to become active, healthy adults. We want them to have fun playing sports for the rest of their lives. I played select soccer and I played basketball professionally in Denmark. Now, at age 41, basketball and soccer are too hard on my body. I could play softball, although that’s not really an “active” sport. But I can still play golf and tennis with my parents and plan to for many years to come.
Tennis and golf are “lifetime sports”, and even more important, I would call them “family sports”. No matter your level, you can play both sports with your kids. Has anyone ever gone on a vacation to play soccer or basketball? I know I haven’t. Yet vacation spots that feature golf and tennis can be found all over the country. If you are reading this article, you already have an affinity for tennis, but I encourage you to give golf a chance, too. Bring your kids out to the mini-golf course at TCSP and let them knock the ball around. Ask about our after-school golf enrichment programs and summer camps. Your son or daughter might not be the next Tiger Woods or Serena Williams, but you will be starting them on a road to an active, healthy life.
TGA of North Seattle