Overtraining: Are You Part of the Problem or the Solution?

Overtraining, overscheduling, overpushing, and all the other “overkills” that face the youth and young adult athlete are a popular topic of public discourse and dismay… but one must truly consider if this “talk is cheap” while the actions of many sports coaches and training professionals  are “speaking louder than words.”  Yes, kids drop out of sport, overuse injuries seem to be more the norm than the exception, and families are spending a small fortune to help little Johnny get ahead.  Little of this is new news (if you want a read piece of the outrage check out Teens Training Too Hard Too Often).

Considering these realities and the public concern, one question must be asked of anyone working in athletics at any level, “Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?”  Too often it seems like poor decisions are made because of money.  Parents and sports coaches trying to save it.  While entrepreneurial coaches are trying to make it.  The reality is that a reasonable investment is usually necessary for athletic health, safety, and performance.  But also, no family ought to feel compelled to “pay in advance” for the potential college scholarship by investing tons and tons of money in any sport.  All this being said, most who work with young and old athletes are caring, passionate, and well intentioned.  Regardless, it is important to look in the mirror from time to time and ask, “Am I part of the solution or part of the problem?”  Some things to be reflected upon are the following:

  • How many months a year of any sport is truly necessary for development and health?
  • When is the e-book, the mini-camp, the website, or the motivational lecture simply a way for someone to make a buck? Worse yet, when is it detrimental the athletes health and wellness because of giving a false sense of sufficient coaching?
  • What is adequate expertise to pass one’s self off as an “expert” in each of the many sports medicine disciplines?
  • When is fancy performance testing or mental profiling only an expensive measure of where one’s at, but provides very little wisdom as “where to go from here” safely and scientifically?
  • When does a coach say, “No,” to coaching or training an athlete despite the parents’ insistence that they want the most and the best for their child? When is the “most” and the “best” not encouraging more and more?
  • At what age should a kid just be a kid and all adults back off to allow one to grow into their athletic potential?

These are a few questions any adult in the sports world should consider regularly… because as is often espoused in the newspaper commentaries, it’s about the athlete’s health, wellness, and enjoyment.

A quick addendum for the consumer of sports coaching and training:

  • Beware if anyone that suggests a child “needs” to do a specific program in order to achieve success. There are many paths to great athletic achievements.
  • Beware of anyone that suggests they themselves can do it all, strength and conditioning, injury prevention, mental training, nutrition, and sports skill training. There is simply too much knowledge in each discipline to truly master them all. A great coach is modest enough to collaborate and make referrals.
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