How to avoid summertime sports stress for kids

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With deadlines approaching for summer – and even fall – sports teams, now is the time to find the right environment for your children.

But identifying the right one out of a slew of options can be stressful, and experts suggest taking the time to find the right fit.

Luis Fernando Llosa, co-author of “Beyond Winning: Smart Parenting in a Toxic Sports Environment,” recommends waiting until kids are 11 or 12 to sign them up – something he acknowledges is unusual.

But this allows children time for developmental stages, he said, “rather than having a coach barking at them all the time and telling them what to do.”

Those barking coaches are another thing to avoid, he advises.

“Find out whether the coach is ego-driven or not,” Llosa said. “They’re doing this more for themselves than for the kids they coach, and they have very little training in child development.”

Aaron Finkel had so much trouble deciding among the “dizzying” number of sports options and deadlines that he launched a website last month, New York Sports Connection, to track teams.

“There are so many different options for parents,” he said, which can become overwhelming.

Many moms and dads also miss deadlines – something he did once and hopes to do never again.

“I missed the deadline for my son once to flag football,” he said. “I never want to see that look on his face again.”

Llosa gives the following tips to foster a positive sports experience:

• Play one sport per season.
• Play different sports during different seasons.
• Choose one activity per year that includes development and balance.
• Study the history of a sport.
• Arrange for your athlete to help coach a younger team.


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