Over the last 10 to 15 years, the innocence of youth sports is falling by the wayside. The opportunity for kids to join a team of friends, neighbors or classmates to enjoy the thrill of playing a game they hardly know how to play is harder to find in today’s fast paced, winner-take-all society.
Savvy business people realized they could monetize what is now clearly an industry to itself. Youth Sports has grown to represent a $5 billion industry and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
A substantial player in this emerging industry are youth sports clubs or “club teams” positioning themselves to cater to the “self proclaimed” elite athlete. Former professional players or coaches have carved a niche in their respective sport offering private instruction at a facility often dedicated to only their sport. In addition to the training offered, these “clubs” then form multiple teams in each age division and proceed to test their skills over a schedule that looks more like a professional team than a group of 10 and 12 year old’s.
Where the industry and business of youth sports begins to forget about our youth is when the various disciplines (sports) begin to compete for market share. Baseball coaches begin to lobby for an athletes time and attention in order to further monetize their instructional offerings in lieu of the athlete going off to play soccer in the fall. Or a basketball coach encourages a player to skip baseball this summer in order to compete on a summer travel team.
I provide this brief background on the evolution of an industry affecting our children as a means to introduce an alternative option for youth athletes and their families.
The Bombers Baseball and Basketball programs were designed to afford youth athletes an opportunity to maintain life balance as they pursue multiple disciplines in an environment promoting fun, education and competition. These players will be encouraged to enjoy the benefits of diversification of sport under the supervision of expert coaches and trainers.
Unfortunately Parents are driving this trend of early specialization, selecting one sport at the expense of others. Understandably, parents are looking for an edge for their child. In our increasingly winner-take-all society, parents are searching desperately for this advantage believing positions are scarce on high school teams and college scholarships are perceived to be in jeopardy at an early age.
It’s the parents who are buying into the idea promoted by many sports organizations and coaches that their child will be unable to attain success without specializing early. Quite simply, the belief that more is better just isn’t true.
Parents assume sports is like academics where if a child falls behind, even in the early grades, they may never catch up. So more parents are pushing their child in school and they believe the same must hold true in sports. They truly believe it is a matter of competitive survival.
Perhaps the most important reason kids should not specialize early is that each sport they play gives them new and different insights into themselves as competitors, and develops new skills that may be difficult to learn any other way. The quickness and aggressiveness Jimmy learned in football last fall makes him a better base runner this spring. The patience Joey learns waiting for a good pitch to hit makes him a better passing guard in basketball. The different equipment, skills, rules and approaches to the game that make each sport uniquely fun also make them better all-round athletes and people.
The Bombers philosophy adopts a long term approach to athlete development. In understanding the progression of skills and fundamentals necessary to perform a specific athletic movement, Bombers Coaches orient their practices and training sessions to help athletes build a foundation on which they can grow. Equally important, in adopting this long term approach athletes are able to mature socially and emotionally while they explore what they are capable of physically across multiple sports.
Participating in sport, regardless of the discipline chosen, involves more than excelling on the playing field. Learning to trust teammates and coaches, understanding the value of making mistakes and learning from them, handling situations with poise while respecting the effort of teammates and coaches are just some of the Core Values reinforced in the Bombers Program. There’s more to being a good teammate than being the best at fielding a ground ball or shooting a basketball.
So why are we different? Maybe it’s because we’re prepared to let our kids enjoy their childhood. We’ve personally competed at high levels and understand the commitment required to master the skills of our respective sports that allow players to continue competing beyond high school and college. We also understand what it takes physically and mentally to “make it” and we’re convinced this balanced approach will best prepare our children for a future they will have the opportunity to design.