Over-Booked Youth Sport Schedules Can Lead to Unforeseen Problems
With the trend today being for kids to play multiple sports at the same time, many parents overlook the numerous potential problems that can arise from over-booking a youth sport schedule. Kids cannot be at two different places at the same time, and because of the inherent scheduling conflicts that exist when playing multiple sports it is important for parents to examine what kind of sport schedule not only makes the most sense for their kids, but also for their kids to be responsible and committed to their team(s). When kids are over-scheduled, they often experience more stress, anxiety, and mood fluctuations — all issues that can negatively impact their overall mental health. It is for these reasons that it is important for parents to take the time necessary to explore how much time, money, and energy to devote to youth sport opportunities.
Unforeseen problems when kids over-book their sports schedule
There are a number of concerns that arise when kids attempt to play multiple sports during the same season that go beyond additional risk of injury and sport burnout. Below are a few issues often overlooked, yet very important when it comes to your child’s likelihood of having a fun, safe, and meaningful youth sport experience:
- Less chance to maximize development. Sure, playing multiple sports concurrently may be exciting, but one major drawback is that most kids who only give part of their time to a specific sport usually develop slower in that sport when compared to how they would have developed with a dedicated, single sport focus. When kids miss practices and games because they are with their other sport team, they often lose out on invaluable coaching and developing the skills and confidence needed to be successful.
- Issues with team chemistry and cohesion. Another big issue that often develops when kids are only partially committed to a team is when the team fails to develop a healthy team chemistry and cohesion. When a kid is only with the team part of the time, the rest of the team often struggles to get the feel of working together as a unit. Interpersonal relationships grow stronger when kids play together, and win and lose together, but this growth is often stunted when the entire team rarely plays together.
- Commitment mix-ups and confusion. No matter how diligent you are with scheduling, there will always be rain outs, make up games, and confusion around things like the field you are playing on or who will be driving your child to the game or practice. The reality is youth sports change often, and when you are trying to successfully juggle multiple sport schedules it can quickly become overwhelming.
- Potential resentment from other players and parents. Most coaches expect kids to attend practices and work hard for a starting position, but this is nearly impossible to do if your time is being split between 2, and sometimes 3 teams! Consequently, teammates and parents can quickly become upset when they see kids playing who have only been at some of the practices, and other kids sitting even though they have attended all of the practices. These concerns become even greater when parents spend a lot of money to have their kid on a team, and/or dedicate a lot of their time making sure their kid makes all the practices, only to see other kids appear to receive preferential treatment while only partially committed.
With each week that passes increasingly more kids commit to multiple sport teams competing during the same season, leaving many sport families to deal with an over-booked sport schedule that potentially limits athletic development, causes more stress, and leaves each respective team with issues relating to lacking team cohesion and chemistry. Additional concerns about fairness may also arise, especially when kids who only commit to a team on a part-time basis play in front of other fully-committed kids. And finally, kids who stop having fun while playing sports (when it feels more like a job than fun) often experience mental health issues and end up quitting sports prematurely — not an ideal situation for anyone.