A recent survey on youth sports found fewer kids are participating in organized athletics. It doesn’t surprise me. When my son came up the ranks from Little League to high school it seemed a lot of kids encountered too much stress and too little joy playing sports.
A separate study found an emphasis on competitiveness and early single sport specialization were reasons behind a growing number of overuse injuries and burnout among young athletes.
I want to change these trends. Full disclosure: I am a Title IX girl. As a high school freshman, I was on the boys’ track team because we didn’t have interscholastic sports for girls. With passage of the landmark education law, a new world opened up to me. I played field hockey through college and chose physical education and athletic training as my areas of study. I’ve been active ever since and it’s been a boon to my health, both physical and mental.
Beyond wellness, sports taught me priceless life lessons – how to win and lose gracefully, work as part of a team, lead, follow, and rejoice in someone else’s success. Commitment, perseverance, integrity, community were all learned out on the field. Mostly, I had a whole lot of fun. Nothing beat the thrill of a hard-fought victory or the freedom I felt running around a grassy field on a sunny afternoon.
Why is yoga good for young athletes? A regular yoga practice helps prevent injuries and speed recovery from strenuous workouts. It’s a great cross training tool, building core strength, balance, stamina, flexibility and range of motion.
Professional athletes are using yoga for a performance edge, from the NFL Seattle Seahawks and MLB’s Evan Longoria to NBA players Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James. These athletes know yoga brings more than physical benefits. Mental clarity, focus, and ease under pressure come from a regular practice of harmonizing body, mind, and breath.
But the biggest win for young athletes is yoga’s cultivation of self-confidence and self-love. You learn that while your performance can be improved, you are whole and perfect just the way you are. In short, yoga can help make youth sports a lot more fun.
Please help bring yoga to young athletes by circulating this blog to anyone you know involved in youth sports. Contact me if I can assist your team or group of young athletes. My life was transformed by playing sports and it is my honor to pass on the benefits.
This article is for informational and educational purposes only and does not substitute for medical advice. Consult with your personal health care provider before beginning an exercise or nutrition program.