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Balance, A Key Ingredient In Learning And Life

Balance, A Key Ingredient In Learning And Life

Just thirty years ago kids engaged in unstructured play outside with their friends for long periods of time. The brain benefited from all kinds of play and activity. These afternoons outside helped the children grow and grasp many complex learning skills from the simple implementation of playing, imagining, and being creative on their own.  They had fun.

Balance, a key ingredient in learning and in life, was at the forefront in all the activities they did. Coaches rarely yelled at kids, and parents, for the most part, just cheered quietly or did not come to the games. This approach has been replaced by specialization and structure and the brain does not like it.

In my first book, Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports I discuss why specialization does not help the children, the athlete, coaches, and parents with their stated goals of scholarships and glory.

Too much structure at an early age can actually have the opposite effect on the children then what is desired. Will they be better husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, and co workers? No. They are missing essential stages of growth that can mostly accomplished by unstructured free play.

From the “Race to the Top,” “No Child left behind,” and the newly instituted “Common Core” testing both on the field and in the classroom has taken a dominant primary position in the education and coaching of our children.

Our children are growing up in fear. They are playing sports in fear. They are going to school in fear. They sometimes socialize in fear, without even knowing how or why they are behaving like they do. They are under tremendous stress without the necessary base and coping tools to help them handle the ever-changing fast-paced world. Sometimes, that fear is manifested in both physical and mental areas.

 A child can suddenly snap at a friend or parent for no apparent reason. I recently watched a high school basketball game in which the team lost what was just another game in the season. What was remarkable was after the game, when a mom came up to her son to console him, he just snapped at her in front of the other kids and parents. He had hardly played in the game. He was frustrated and was not having any fun. The coach did not understand that the more the kids played the better the team would get. He, like most coaches, made winning the most important thing.  His fear of job security or status took priority over the children’s need for play. Meanwhile his team lost, and a real chance for change was lost. 

At Balanced Excellence we give coaches and youth sports professional the tools they need to allow kids to engage in constructive play while enjoying the game and building positive memories of playing sports as children.

Written by : Jennifer