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Pressure To Play On Travel Team

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"I have 7 & 5 year old boys who participate in all regular season team sports. I am getting pressure to have my kids participate in the select/travel teams. It makes me very angry to hear someone tell me that my kids will never play high school ball if they don't participate in the travel teams during the offseason. I want my kids to play because they like to play, not because I pushed them into it. What is the balance?"

PCA Response by Joe Scally, PCA Trainer-Chicago
Your question raises an issue that is coming up with more frequency.

While your primary concern as a parent is with your childrens’ overall well being, let’s for a moment look just at their development as athletes. If you want your children to become great athletes you will encourage them to play multiple sports. Field vision, reaction time, and balance are some of the skills that are honed by playing different sports. Many professional athletes attribute their success, in part, to having played different sports until a late age.

In his book, Positive Sports Parenting, PCA Founder and Executive Director Jim Thompson (@JimThompson18) cites the statement of Dan Gould of Michigan State’s Institute for the Study of Youth Sports that premature specialization is a problem. Research indicates that for most sports it is not a good idea to specialize before the age of 12. Some think waiting until 14 or 15 is an even better idea.

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