Even when we counter the insanity of youth sports and argue against year-round specialization at a young age, we too often use language that reinforces the craziness in youth sports. When we see families sending their kids to “AAA” programs immediately after the season to simply continue more team practices and more team games (incredibly inefficient for development), we might retort “they are so serious about [insert sport]”. Or we might comment how much of a “hockey family” or “baseball family” they are. Because they are so “serious” about it, they do it a lot.
What!? How does this make any sense? A dog that chases its own tail in circles for hours on end isn’t a serious runner. I don’t know dog psychology and health very well but I would think this is probably some sort of mental issue. Why don’t we call out the same in basketball or hockey or soccer? Those players doing year-round specialization at eight years old are not any more serious than a player playing three sports. In fact, the eight-year-old playing three sports and taking time away from the rink should be commended. They are serious. They are cross-training and utilizing other sports to build a well-rounded athleticism that will allow them to be more adaptable—a key characteristic of any elite athlete.
Our advice? Be a serious athlete by focusing on what matters. Build speed, increase your vertical jump, and strengthen your core. Forget the tournament trophy, the airline miles, and the many other distractions.