The One Problem with Youth Sports

The One Problem with Youth Sports


I lied.

There’s a ton of problems with youth sports:

1.) Early specialization.
2.) Expenses.
3.) No more oranges at half time.
4.) Coaches who don’t know the game.
5.) Coaches who know the game but can’t teach.
6.) Parents yelling at referee.
7.) Expenses.
8.) Playing time.
9.) Expenses.
10.) Attaching kids to speed harnesses at age 7.

In the several years I’ve been involved in youth sports, I’ve heard endless complaints, most similar to the ones above.

And while I could type away a more extensive list of the deeply flawed system of youth sports, I refuse.


Because the one problem in youth sports goes beyond what coaches, clubs, organizations, referees, and parents do. It goes beyond others’ mistakes, shortcomings, and fuck ups.

So what is it?

The one problem with youth sports: GRATITUDE.

Ultimately, gratitude is a game changer.

And it’s up to you to decide if you want to practice it or not. So this begs several questions: are you accomplishing anything by cursing at the referee after the game finishes? Are you going to get your kid more playing time by sending the coach a passive aggressive text message? Are you going to improve your child’s development by running them into the ground every day? Are you going to turn them into a better athlete by complaining all the time?

Absolutely not.

The truth is that it’s easy to nitpick all the fucked up shit that is going on in youth sports clubs. I get it. We’re humans and we call out others for their shortcomings.


We’re also capable of expressing gratitude, finding the silver lining in any situation, and embracing other human beings for the magnitude of who they are.

Because get this: people will fail you. And I hope this happens exponentially less to you than it has to me, but it will happen regardless.

So you have to learn to be grateful.

An excellent book on how to be a master at gratitude is Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar.

Truthfully, the moment I turned complaint into gratitude liberated the heck out of me and left me less and less disappointed with others.

Sure, you can complain your kid isn’t playing enough, practices aren’t the time of week you want, team expenses are overwhelming, and the coach’s daughter is playing more than your talented daughter.

But what about the meticulous planning the coach does for practice? The amazing kit that gives your kid confidence? The time the Director of Coaching puts into coaching education for his staff? The awesome friendships you’ve made along the way? The cool places you’ve traveled to for sports? The amazing turf fields the team practices on under the lights? The work that the club does behind-the-scenes to allow your kid the opportunity to play and be active?

Be grateful.

It’ll save you.

  • Alexander
    Posted at 18:23h, 10 April Reply

    Hi Erica, this past year I have been coaching a Under 7’s team in Manchester, England.

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. We have scouts from the big four teams (Manchester United,Manchester City ,Everton and Liverpool) in North West of England. They are only 6 , the pressure placed on their tiny shoulders is too much.

    Cheers for the book recommendation . Keep up the good work


    • erica
      Posted at 19:22h, 10 April Reply


      You’re absolutely right…it’s a lot of pressure for these kids, especially at that young of an age. That said, it’s so had to predict how talented and athletic and fast a kid will be at age 6, let alone age 12! Crazy professional clubs scout 12 year olds haha.

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