Many parents are consumed with supporting their kids successes in sports. Often this not only includes measures that are excessive and not necessary to achieving the ultimate goals, but also often results in an unhealthy disregard for the parent's and family's needs. Constantly on the go, eating fast food, not getting enough; exercise, rest and/or sleep, or family time often is the norm. Add to this the demands of the job and you have a lifestyle that leaves a lot to be desired.
Prioritizing and time management should begin with a good perspective of life in general. For me this refers to my life in Christ. I have confidence that if I live as I should, in keeping with Kingdom Principles, that things will work out in the long run. It doesn't mean that mistakes won't be made, and that my faith won't be tested. It also doesn't mean that the goals will be accomplished just as intended, but rather that there will be a positive result.
I definitely am all for parents putting forth a committed effort to support the child's athletic success, but many parents need to learn just what is vital to the big picture, and what is not. Years upon years of time and money can get poured into; travel teams, specialized training, and camps and clinics, but how much is actually necessary? It is true, that getting good coaching from an early age is extremely important. Fundamentals and good habits should be established from the outset in each sport participated in, and there is a physical fitness aspect that requires attention as well.
I believe that a good plan is to do due diligence to find a program, team, camp, or trainer that will do a good job of teaching the fundamentals to the athlete early on. In my opinion this is a time where investing significant time and money makes the most sense. I don't believe, however; for most sports, that this requires continuous specialized training from the earliest ages through high school. Sports that feature a lot of technical aspects like wrestling, golf and tennis may be exceptions, however; a kid that learns from a good coach early on, how to; sprint with good technique, hit a baseball or softball, and/or shoot and dribble a basketball, shouldn't need double digit years of continuous specialized training for those skills.
Allowing the athlete to compete in the local sports leagues along with periodic attendance to clinics and camps, and playing with peers, often is enough for a fundamentally sound athlete to make progress since most leagues have volunteer coaches that at least know enough to get by. Natural maturation, and normal development of body control and coordination, also; play an important role in skill development as well as physical development, so patience and considering the big picture is very important.
If a seven or eight year old kid focuses on basketball year round, and maybe has a personal coach or trainer, then obviously he/she should have an edge over basketball players of similar talent that don't have that same focus or opportunity. How important, however; is that when considering the big picture. Seven and eight year olds aren't getting college scholarships or professional contracts. When a 14 year old athlete is trying out for a team in the freshman year of high school, how much of an edge do you think he/she will have over others because of being fully committed to the sport since the age of 6, 7, or 8. There is also the issue of overuse injuries and burnout to consider when subjecting young athletes to overexposure to specific sports and activities.
Many prefer to see young athletes to try a variety of sports. There are pros and cons to the topic of choosing multiple sports vs focusing on just one. Many of us that played multiple sports growing up enjoyed the unique aspects each sport offered, not to mention that we got a mental break from the sport we had just finished competing in for a few months. It didn't mean we couldn't go down to the park and play pick up basketball during baseball season, but it was because we wanted to do it, not that we had to do it. The child's personal preference, of course should be considered, but parents and coaches can play important roles in assessing what sports the child has the most potential in. Everybody can't be Lebron James.
At some point, possibly during the early middle school years, I believe careful consideration needs to be given to decide which sport or two the athlete intends to designate as primary. If the athlete is well grounded in the fundamentals, then it becomes a matter of getting the needed; work, competition, and coaching to take their performance in the sport(s) selected to the next level. This is where, once again, the significant investment of time and money may be needed. The objective is for the athlete to show up to high school prepared to make the team and to be able to earn a significant role on the team. Part of making the team is making the academic requirement. Refer to my Developing a Student/Athlete blog for guidance to help prepare your athlete from a young age, for the academic rigors of high school and college.
So in conclusion, I suggest that parents learn to prioritize what is most important to supporting their kid's success and proceed from there, and hopefully not confuse activity with accomplishment, staying busy in their busyness, and fail to enjoy a relatively balanced family life.