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Parenting Young Athletes to be Pro Athletes

Private lessons, professional coaches, intensive sports camps, travel teams for 5 year olds… Parenting young athletes to be pro athletes is big business.

Parenting Young Athletes to be Pro Athletes

I’m not sure I want my son to take “the next step” in his youth sports and put a heavy focus into one sport or make his commitment reach beyond a recreational level.


My son has always been pretty fickle when it comes to his interests. He wants to try them all and darn near has. He plays guitar, baseball, football, tennis, and is always hounding my husband and I to take part in different sports camps. Even though my son is young, my husband thinks he should start zeroing in on a particular interest now if he ever “wants to take (insert sport or activity here) to the next level.” It’s strange for me to think at middle school / early high school age that he may want to make up his mind soon about what (if any) particular sports or activities he may want to focus on. In the world of parenting young athletes to be pro athletes, he may be way too old.


I walked in on my sports geek husband watching TV recently. He was watching a movie/documentary on ESPN about a guy named Todd Marinovich. I never heard of Marinovich but I found the story interesting.


Todd Marinovich was a talented young quarterback raised (you could say bred) to be an NFL quarterback from birth by his professional trainer father. Todd’s fathers’ almost maniacal diet and training regimen produced a gifted athlete, but socially one in Todd. Todd was even called “Robo QB” as he was heavily scouted by colleges. Todd even made it in to the NFL but his the dreams of Marinovich’s father crashed as his son fell into a cycle of drug abuse and Todd never realized his full potential. It’s heavily implied that the pressure heaped upon Marinovich by his father was the cause of Todd’s crash. What’s the danger of parenting young athletes to be pro athletes?

My sports geek husband also sent me this old link about recently retired NFL star Rob Gronkowski. In the article Gronkowski said that his father used to hurl tennis balls at Rob and his brothers when he was 4 years old in an effort to get them the football skills needed to be a professional athlete. Mr Gronkowski was always quick to remind his sons that there is always someone out there gunning to be better than they are. I can’t imagine beaning my son with tennis balls in hopes he can parlay a skill out of it make it professionally but I can’t argue with the Gronkowski success. Rob and his brothers all made it in the NFL.

Am I taking the whole competition aspect of youth sports and kids’ activities too lightly? I guess I never realized that there are parents out there with dollar signs in their eyes firing tennis balls at 4 year olds. I’m not bemoaning parents that drive their children. To each their own. But, it’s a little scary for me to think that my son may have gotten involved with the guitar “too late” at the age of 12 if he ever did decide he wanted to be the next Eddie Van Halen or that he’s past his prime if he ever wanted to aspire to be the next Justin Herbert. I guess I can take solace in the fact that he’s currently not on the path to becoming the next Todd Marinovich.

What do you think about Parenting Young Athletes to be Pro Athletes?

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