33 Myths Around Youth Sport
The Larry Walker is now a baseball Hall of Famer, and busts myth 1 of 33.
One of my favorite pro athletes of all time was inducted in the pro baseball hall of fame this past week. Living in Montreal and watching Larry come up with the Expos, overcome a devastating knee injury in the minors and then excel with the Expos was incredible. Speed, power, average, rocket arm and incredible fielder, Walker was a true 5 tool player.
Larry Walker’s background in baseball would make many a parent’s jaw drop in today’s world.
He did not play much baseball growing up. Gravitated towards hockey and it was only after he got cut in high level hockey (With the Regina Pats of WHL) that he though seriously about baseball.
He had skills and someone saw something in him, and the Expos drafted him and signed him for whopping $1500. He was raw in the minor leagues and had a tough injury but persevered.
As a very competitive athlete, Walker had the mindset of “win or learn” in everything he did.
His story is worth sharing with the younger generation. I have posted some good articles around his career and upbringing at the bottom of this article.
Not playing a lot of baseball today might not give a young person a chance to be seen by major league scouts. It was a different time and era. On the other hand, the power of video can go a long way and that did not exist as a tool back then.
It becomes mythical to think that a young athlete today could not play much of a sport and get drafted by that same sport.
With that in mind, Larry Walker who wore #33:
Here are 33 myths around youth sport:
1. Making a choice to focus on one sport early on is critical if want to play at the next level. The best athletes in history played multiple sports growing up. Reference the Larry Walker story!
2. To develop as a young athlete, the best route is to play elite level/travel teams as soon as possible, even under 10 years old , otherwise he/she will fall behind. The case can be made that the best route to develop as an athlete, physically and mentally is to play. Period. Playing is the key. Not being on the top team in the region. Kids develop so different, many at 9 or 10 are not ready for elite level. But they might be at 14 or 15 if they learn while playing when younger.
3. When it comes to competition, whomever wants it most usually wins. No! Whomever has prepared the best and learned to be able to focus when it matters most will usually do the best. Then again, some days, the extra gear is just not there for athletes of any age. “they just wanted it more”…don’t get me started, on finals day, they all want it, trust me.
4. Coaches who have played at a high level make the best coaches. Nope. Many great coaches never played at a high level. Really good coaches in youth sport are good teachers and communicators. Different skillset.
5. 13 is too young to start training in the gym for sport performance. Wrong. Old myth. Moving well today is not develop during free play like yesteryear. This is where the gym and a good strength and conditioning coach comes into play.
6. A disciplinarian approach is best for young athletes who aspire to play at next level. Wrong. Kids respond to different types of coaching. Disciplinarian approach may work for some, not so much for others. Establishing high standards and holding young people accountable often works better than only discipline.
7. Leaders are born. Nope. It is a learned skill. We discuss it here.
8. Paying more for coaches means they are better qualified and will help more. Nope. Some of the best coaches out there, volunteer their time. When it comes to lawyers, pay more for a good one, but not necessarily coaches.
9. We can save money in training our young athlete ourselves. Wrong. Unless you are a certified strength and conditioning coach with a few thousand hours of experience. Investing in development and supporting a young person’s passion and interest is a better perspective.
10. You can’t teach speed. Wrong. Ask Master Coach Phil Campbell.
11. Speed training is best via competitive races. Wrong. See it differently here.
12. Speed training is best at end of practice. When athletes are tired. No, this is asking for injury.
13. Jump training (plyometrics) is a great conditioning tool. No. Jump training is a great developer of power. Should be prescribed carefully, progressively and in small doses.
14. College coaches need to see good stats in recruits. No. they want to see athleticism, good character and grades, good references from reputable coaches.
15. Young athletes need a good 90 minutes to warm up. It kills me to see coaches ask their players to get u11 athletes to games 90 minutes before start time, then play 2 games in a day, and 4 games in 2 days. They are not pros.
16. Batting practice, hundreds of swings is best way to improve hitting. Wrong. Ask Coach Doug Mckeen.
17. There is no harm playing contact football or hockey under 10 years old. Do the research. Re-think this so the risks are well, well understood on the yet fully developed body and brain.
18. Heading the ball is safe for young soccer players as it is part of the game. Do some research, youth soccer has one of the highest rates of concussions of all sport.
19. It’s normal to have a 13 year-old have to pick between sports if they want to do well later on in that sport. No, its not. We had a few thousands views and interactions on a twitter thread this week that agrees that it is not. Almost unanimously.
20. Mental training has little purpose in youth sports until they master physical fundamentals. Wrong. Especially today, mental might be more important than physical.
21. Best pre practice food is chicken and pasta. No. Look it up.
22. Sugar serves little harm if kids are active enough. Wrong. Sugar is toxic.
23. Water during competition is most important to avoid dehydration. No. Water before competition is critical to avoid dehydration.
24. For my u12 athlete, they need the best gear, like the pros. No. they don’t need $300 hockey sticks or bats.
25. Physical growth makes it easier for young athletes to develop. Wrong. Makes it harder. Let’s think about it. You grow 4 inches over the winter, then pick up a ball to throw it again. Easier? Your body must relearn the motor pattern to a large degree.
26. More practice is key when performance is struggling. Practice with purpose can help. Sometimes rest is more powerful.
27. Parents should not hesitate to speak up to coaches when playing time for junior is down. Try this: help your son/daughter speak to the coach directly about the concern, if the young one is concerned!
28. Playing injured is a sign of commitment. Not it is not.
29. Ice is best for treating a sprained ankle or muscle injury. It is best to help with pain but not with rehab. This thought process has changed. We explore this and other well meaning support that does not help.
30. My son or daughter didn’t it lose consciousness a so there is no concussion. There are 4 stages of a concussion. From simply getting bumped to loss of consciousness. A knock to the head deserves treatment.
31. Kids today don’t want to work. Not true. We have example all around of kids who do. Let’s remember, youth sport are supposed to be fun!
32. We must travel to compete with the best. No, not unless you live in a very small rural area. Often there is great competition within 15 minutes of where you live, yet youth sport teams have convinced us we must travel hours away to see how we do? However were strong athletes developed in the 70’s or 80’s or before.
33. Competing with the best opponents in our age group will enhance development. Not always. At some ages, our athlete maybe competing versus someone 40 lbs bigger, stronger, more advanced and better. That is a recipe for injury.
Larry Walker Story: