While it’s difficult to generalize, typically youth sport programs tend to emphasize skill development and competition over promoting physical activity.
Recently there is a trend in early sport specialization and privatization of youth sport programs which often restrict community minded play and inclusion programming. These trends tend to promote the importance of competition over physical activity and personal growth. Organized sport is traditional in structure where coaches often have experience in a particular sport and thus share their knowledge of specific sport skill and technique, rather than a general approach to the importance of being physically active daily.
With the increase in sedentary behaviour in youth today, it’s crucial that the promotion of physical activity is integrated into all youth programs. Youth who specialize in a particular sport to accelerate their achievement are often so focused on developing those specific skills that they lose sight of other benefits to being active. When the goal of participating in sport becomes competing at a high level, and that goal isn’t attained with years of dedication, it can deter youth from being physically active in general.
While I do believe there are great benefits to youth sport program involvement including physical skill development, socialization, leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking, we must be mindful as parents, coaches, and mentors to encourage a general passion for physical activity and diversity in activities in today’s youth.