Sports resolutions for the new school year


Softball is a great sport, but kids shouldn’t play it all year at the expense of other sports, doctors say. (Christopher Onstott/For the Washington Post)

Summer is almost over. Kids­Post is going to the beach next week. Kids will be heading back to school and their fall sports teams.

For kids, the start of school is more of a new year than January 1 is. So I thought it might be a good time for kids, coaches and parents to make some new year’s sports resolutions.

One sport, one team, one season: Too many kids play too many sports at the same time. They play soccer and baseball in the fall, basketball and indoor soccer in the winter, and even more sports in the spring and summer.

I think it would be better if kids played one sport on one team each season. Leagues and coaches could make it easier for kids by giving families the option of choosing a single season to play a sport instead of insisting that kids play, for example, soccer or baseball in both the fall and spring.

One sport, one team, one season would give everyone time for other important things, such as family, friends and school.

Not just one sport: The American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of doctors who focus on treating young people, recommends that kids avoid specializing in one sport before age 14. The doctors find that kids who play one sport year-round get hurt more frequently and often get tired of playing that sport.

If you are one of those 10-year-olds who plays basketball 12 months a year, give yourself a break and mix things up. Play lacrosse in the spring or take up tennis in the summer. Aim to become a better all-around athlete. That will help you in any sport.

Forget the ref: I hear too many kids, parents and coaches complaining about umpires or referees at kids’ games. That’s probably because they watch sports on television, where announcers constantly talk about the officials.

Sports for kids should be about having fun and developing skills. Coaches and parents should teach kids to treat the referee’s call as part of the game. Kids should concentrate on improving their own performance and forget about any “bad” calls.

If everyone makes and keeps these three resolutions, it will be a happy new year.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 20 sports books for kids. His latest is a football book called “Double Reverse.”

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