Ambition, ambition, ambition. Trophies and straight A's are great, but what happened to 8+ hours of sleep, proper nutrition and ability to absorb and recover? Nobody talks to the kids about proper mental and physical development, nutrition, sleep, hydration. We give them too much of the wrong stuff and too little of the right stuff.
In today's world, we adults suffer from the “BUSY” disease. And now our kids are suffering from it, too. Our kids are STRESSED out. If you think I'm exaggerating, read on.
Our children are getting way less than 8 hours of sleep which is bare minimum for adults, let alone kids and adolescents. Their schedules are over packed, and nobody seems to talk or care about rest and nourishment of the mind and the body.
The more kids I see, the more stress I see. I see very little enjoyment in what they do, and instead I just see stress of making the teams, making good grades, making it to the tutor, making good ACT, getting all the useless homework done (I call homework useless because it's mostly just busy work, and not the kind of work that promotes critical thinking). And during all this business, they are developing zero common sense, they're not eating or sleeping right, they're losing the ability to be in tune with their bodies, they are forgetting about freedom and play. And what is childhood without play? Then, due to stress, their immune systems are down and they get sick often. And then, in our own imperative of always staying busy, we want them up and running as quick as possible, so we give them a bunch of pharmaceuticals instead of proper sleep, nutrition and time to heal.
I don’t have an MD behind my name, but I am pretty sure I have some common sense. I keep
my sessions 1 hr long, and most of the times it’s even less than, because that is how long the kids can sustain staying focused. Then why are we sending 12 year olds to 3 hour practices multiple days a week?
I am a proponent of hard, deliberate and focused work. I am 100% against busy, unintentional, waste-of-time and stay-stressed-out work.
And because all of this mentioned above, my most often used phrases during coaching have become: hey, try to relax and enjoy your practices; go home, eat good food and have a good night's sleep; have some quiet time; do something you enjoy.
Coaches and parents, when bodies are stressed and sleep deprived, they adapt and not always in a beneficial way. More practices, more homework and busier schedule don't necessarily yield better results. Too often, it's quite the contrary.
Sometimes less is MORE.
I always say back to fundamentals. Good sleep, good nutrition, hydration and the ability to relax our minds and bodies are fundamentals that should come before all others.