Viewing entries tagged
youth soccer

College Scholarship Myth

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College Scholarship Myth

NPR published the commentary from John U. Bacon’s talk about College Scholarships. You should listen to it or read it: To Get a College Scholarship: Forget The Field, Hit The Books.

About ten years ago, a family friend invited me to dinner to talk to them and their freshman son about preparing for college soccer. Their main quest wash to navigate high school and club soccer in such a way as to best prepare their child for the ever elusive college scholarship.

With nearly twenty years of collegiate coaching experience, they assumed that I would be able to provide some valuable insight into the process. As we sat down to the dinner table, the first thing the dad shared was that they had been spending approximately $15,000 per year for the past few years on Joey’s (not his real name) soccer development. The first words out of my mouth were, “you should take that money and send Joey to a private school.” They laughed.

Dinner was fine, and I shared some philosophy and perspective on player development, which I believe mostly was disregarded, as it really wasn’t what they ‘wanted” to hear. They wanted a road map to a college scholarship. It doesn’t really exist.

The sad news about this particular story is that this same young man called me four years later in February looking for a job. You see, he enrolled in a university that did not even have a men’s varsity soccer team, and he failed out after one semester….academic probation! Maybe my advice wasn’t that far off after all.

Why is it that parents refuse to believe the statistics about success rates within youth sports? If I took 10 parents and asked them to stand up together, and then asked them if they thought that their child would quit sports by the age of 13, I bet that not one of them would raise their hand. Parents cannot believe that their child would ever quit.

The fact is, 7 out of those 10 will have a child quit. With 70% gone, we now have the remaining 30% go on to play in high school. Oh, by the way, those 70% are now relieved because they have just gotten their lives back…no more running around the country every weekend, schlepping the entire family to some random tournament.

Now, of those 30% who made it into high school sports, only 2% will get a college scholarship. It should be noted, that in most sports outside of football, most collegiate coaches are splitting up their scholarships so that more kids can get help. So, while your kid might get a scholarship, chance are it’s only paying a small percentage of their actual college costs.

Are you ready for some more hard facts? 33% of all collegiate athletes quit. Roughly 50% suffer from severe anxiety and/or depression, many of whom are seeking counseling or medication…..legal and illegal.

Isn’t it time that we ask ourselves just what we are doing? John U. Bacon has got it right. We need to send our kids outside to play. They need to figure out how to play on their own and create fun games. No coaches, no parents, no referees…..just kids figuring it out!

- Steve Locker

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Copa America 2016

copa america

USA! USA! USA! USA!

That is the chant that you have all heard from those "crazed" soccer fans during the FIFA World Cup every four years. Maybe you have even been one of them yourself? Well, the good thing is that if you have been that fan or have ever wondered what the hype was all about you don't have to wait another four years to support your team or your favorite player, because a soccer tournament of nearly the same magnitude is taking over the month of June.

One of the hardest things for coaches to instill in young players is passion for the game. Think back to how you discovered something you are passionate about in your life. Was it because of playing pick-up games in the yard next door? Was it because of a teacher or coach that was so enthusiastic about a subject or sport that it rubbed off on you? Was it watching an iconic moment unfold while cheering on your favorite team? Or was it watching your childhood hero pull off the impossible with seconds left to spare in the game? We all can probably relate to at least one or more of those moments.

As it turns out one of the most prolific soccer tournaments, Copa America, is set to kick-off June 3rd on U.S. soil for the first time ever. Copa America is the perfect event for excitement, drama and passion that usually only a World Cup can provide. Watching these types of events as a group is one of the easiest ways to show young kids why a sport is so magical. It also gives you the time to explain things like sportsmanship and teamwork in a real-time situation that isn't so personal. So grab your team, your kids and your family and be one of those "crazed" fans. Follow your favorite team(s) or player(s) through the tournament and help instill that passion for the game in a young player you know this month.

If that wasn't enough to get you interested even Kobe Bryant is going to be watching and in the video below he tells you why you should be as well. The full T.V. schedule for Copa America is below.

Copa America Schedule:(in Eastern Standard Time)

Fri., 6/3 USA vs. Columbia - Santa Clara, CA - 9:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sat., 6/4 Costa Rica vs. Paraguay - Orlando, FL - 5:00 p.m. FOX
               Haiti vs. Peru - Seattle, WA - 7:30 p.m. FOX Sports 2
               Brazil vs. Ecuador - Pasadena, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sun., 6/5 Jamaica vs. Venezuela - Chicago, IL - 5:00 p.m. FOX
                Mexico vs. Uruguay - Glendale, AZ - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Mon., 6/6 Panama vs. Bolivia - Orlando, FL - 7:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                 Argentina vs. Chile - Santa Clara, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Tue., 6/7 USA vs. Costa Rica - Chicago, IL - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                Colombia vs. Paraguay - Pasadena, CA - 10:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Wed., 6/8 Brazil vs. Haiti - Orlando, FL- 7:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                 Ecuador vs. Peru - Glendale, AZ - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 2

Thu., 6/9 Uruguay vs. Venezuela - Philadelphia, PA - 7:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                Mexico vs. Jamaica - Pasadena, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Fri., 6/10 Chile vs. Bolivia - Foxborough, MA - 7:00 p.m. FOX
                Argentina vs. Panama - Chicago, IL - 9:30 p.m. FOX

Sat., 6/11 USA vs. Paraguay - Philadelphia, PA - 7:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
               Colombia vs. Costa Rica - Houston, TX - 9:00 p.m. FOX Sports 2

Sun., 6/12 Ecuador vs. Haiti - East Rutherford, NJ - 6:30 p.m. FOX Sports 2
                 Brazil vs. Peru - Foxborough, MA - 8:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Mon., 6/13 Mexico vs. Venezuela - Houston, TX - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                  Uruguay vs. Jamaica - Santa Clara, CA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Tue., 6/14 Chile vs. Panama - Philadelphia, PA - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1
                 Argentina vs. Bolivia - Seattle, WA - 10:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Thu., 6/16 Copa America 1A vs. 2B - Seattle, WA - 9:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Fri., 6/17 Copa America 1B vs. 2A - East Rutherford, NJ - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sat., 6/18 Copa America 1D vs. 2C - Foxborough, MA - 7:00 p.m. FX
                Copa America 1C vs. 2D - Santa Clara, CA - 10:00 p.m. FX

Tue., 6/21 Copa America W25 vs. W27 - Houston, TX - 9:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Wed., 6/22 Copa America W26 vs. W28 - Chicago, IL - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Sat., 6/25 Copa America L29 vs. L30 - Glendale, AZ - 8:00 p.m. FX

Sun., 6/26 Copa America final East - Rutherford, NJ - 8:00 p.m. FOX Sports 1

Viva la Copa America Centenario

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports

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Where Have All of the Good Times Gone?

fun

Last week we talked about injuries and why it is important to allow our athletes the proper amount of time to heal before they resume play. Another very important reason to make sure your kids have healed properly is prevent injuries that are related to overuse. Overuse injuries happen most frequently when a child has been rushed back to play before properly healing and have become one of the leading factors in kids quitting sports in their transitional years. But, injuries are not the only reason our children are choosing to quit sports at an alarming rate (as high as 78%) at the age of 13. The leading cause is that they are simply not having fun playing their particular sport anymore.

This can stem from a number of reasons. The number one reason is negative child-coach interactions. At the club level it can be the pressure felt by the coach to win-at-all-costs that limits playing time for all but the best players. Another reason is that the kids themselves start to view the sport they once loved as more of a job than a fun activity. Second Nature Sports and I believe in a philosophy that empowers coaches and mentors to adopt a proven sports philosophy that nurtures childhood development by keeping soccer fun. Our number one goal is to keep kids playing longer and we believe that by providing coaches with simple, yet robust educational tools they will be able to interact with their team with confidence. Proper education and confidence will give them the tools necessary ensure their kids have fun and love coming to practice.

In this week's blog we turn yet again to Dr. Joseph Donahue and our friends at PCA as they go over some of the reasons why so many kids are leaving sports at such an early age.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


Dr. Joseph Donahue is an orthopedic surgeon at SOAR Clinic in Redwood City and has served as team physician for the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford University as well as an orthopedic consultant for the San Francisco Giants. He is the team physician for Santa Clara University.

In this clip, Dr. Donahue lists the reasons for attrition in youth sports and why kids drop out or quit. Among those: injury, often stemming from overuse, due to early sport specialization. Also, pressure to excel on the scoreboard can limit opportunities for players to continue developing as they get caught up in win-at-all-cost environments and may miss out on playing time. In turn, that makes sports less fun, which is the most often-cited reason for kids quitting sports.

A link to the original post can be found here.

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Your child has just suffered an injury...what happens next?

injury

Injuries unfortunately are a part of sport and seem to happen at the most inopportune time. As parents and coaches we often find ourselves in what can feel like a high pressure situation just following a players injury. Can our team win the next big game without being at full strength? Is that player going to miss out on a scholarship or opportunity to play at the next level due to missed time on the field? The player may also feel as if they are letting their team down or missing out on the fun. All of these things can lead to rushing a child back onto the field before he/she is ready.

As coaches we must realize that our teams best moments can come from a team pulling together to achieve goals even when the odds are against them. As parents we have to realize that scholarship opportunities aren't won or lost overnight. If the child is ready for the next level of play the scholarship opportunities will be there after the child has healed. Our children are resilient and missing the appropriate amount of time to heal is alright. Missing a month or two to recover is better than having lifelong health issues from pushing a child back into competition before they have healed.

In this week's blog our friends at PCA give us a brief overview of why it is critical to take enough time to properly heal from an injury rather than succumb to the pressure of returning to play too early.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


Dr. Joseph Donahue is an orthopedic surgeon at SOAR Clinic in Redwood City and has served as team physician for the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford University as well as an orthopedic consultant for the San Francisco Giants. He is the team physician for Santa Clara University.

In this clip, Dr. Donahue emphasizes the importance of full recovery from injury. Too often, in pursuit of wins or scholarships, coaches and parents can rush a child back to competition prematurely. Youth athletes themselves may just sense the pressure or have the innate drive to hurry back to the fun and to avoid feeling like they let their teammates down. But a rush to return can have lifelong negative consequences.

A link to the original post can be found here.

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The New Dimension in Youth Soccer: Navigating U.S. Soccer’s New Age Groupings

Age change.jpg

No one likes change, and this is a sizable change for the millions of soccer families in our country. The soon to be “old” system of determining age groups, where the calendar year began on August 1st, will now become “Birth Year” groupings with a January 1st start. All of this becomes a harsh reality in the next few weeks, and parents are scrambling with the question: where should my child play?

Terminology Lesson: It will no longer be called U8, or Under 8. The new term for this
age group is now 8 & Under. Get used to it.

There is one gender issue at play, and let me address it up front. Generally speaking, girls have a greater pull towards playing with friends than do boys. This factor will be one that many parents will grapple with when trying to decide where to place their child. I will talk about the “friend” card in more detail as I delve into this topic.

So your 9 year old has been playing with his team for three years, and now we are dealing with the fact that half the team was born in 2006 and the other half was born in 2007. (Those with 2006 birth dates will jump all the way to 11 & Under. Those with 2007 birth dates will play at 10 & Under.) Your child was born in June of 2007, but two of his best friends have 2006 birth dates. What to do?

Let me make one critically important fact very clear: The coach of your child is the single most important factor in all of this. Which club you play for, and which league you are in matter less. Your child MUST enjoy their coach, or they will be out of the game in no time. It doesn’t matter how many friends they have on their new team, they will make new friends quickly.

A good coach will make the experience fun and they will continue the developmental process for your child and progress them with their skills, their understanding of the game, and most importantly, the continued implementation of life’s most important lessons.

When considering an age group, especially playing “up” an age group, here are some considerations that you, as a parent, must be ready to deal with: (Please know that the more honestly that you make this assessment, the better the experience that your child will have.)

Speed: At what level will your child’s foot speed and speed of play (decision making) allow for the most success. If you over estimate your child’s ability, you are setting them up for failure.

Physicality: Like speed, this has to be the appropriate fit.

Emotional (& Psychological) Maturity: Given this stage of your child’s development, where will they find the most success and the best chance of developing into a team leader?

Ball Skills: Is your child’s mastery of controlling the ball in line with the older players that you may be considering having your child join?

The Friend Card: The longer that a team has been together, the more challenging it is to break up those friendships. Because high school players compete against many different age groups in high school, they are more likely to be successful at playing “up” in order to stay with friends. As we examine the younger age groups (8-14 years), I believe that it is more important to keep these children within their ages. There are always going to be exceptions, and as long as a child can meet with success when playing against older kids, then that child can be a reasonable candidate for playing “up”. Please keep this fact in mind: kids make friends in the time that it takes you to check out at the grocery store! They are more resilient than we think.

When we look at all of these factors in regards to our children, our ability to determine the best fit is critical. It will make the difference between your child meeting success or struggling with fitting in. In these formative years, the more success that they have, the longer that they will play.

Let’s keep our kids playing, keep the process positive, and support them in their journey to make new friends. Isn’t that what sports is all about anyway?

- Steve Locker

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Is Your League Following A Good Development Model?

youthcamp

As a parent or a coach you have seen the the practice sessions where coaches run out of ideas after about 30 minutes, so they instinctively turn to playing a one ball scrimmage. In many recreational leagues parents let it slide and think to themselves, "well they have to play a game at some point, so getting some experience in that type of setting is probably a good thing." But, there are real reasons why coaches shouldn't resort to playing a one ball scrimmage at practices. Are your league directors and coaches following a proven development model? If not Second Nature Sports can help. Our training plans give coaches 8-weeks of full practice plans that will guide them through each and every practice in a developmentally focused manner.

In this week's blog our friends at PCA give us a brief overview of why children under the age of 12 shouldn't be playing your traditional 11v11 one ball games, especially in practice.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


PCA National Advisory Board Member Jay Coakley (@SiSCoakley) is Professor Emeritus of sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He has done 40 years of research on connections between sports, culture and society, much of that focused on the play, games and sport participation of young people. His Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies(11th edition) is the world's most widely used sports sociology text.

In this video, Coakley describes why youth sports needs to be simplified for children under 12 years of age. He states that, “prior to the age of 12, kids are not socially and cognitively ready to play complex team games.” Research shows that children under the age of 8 can only take on one role at a time. So for sports like soccer, where there are 10 teammates, a soccer ball, and coaches, it is difficult for children to understand all of these roles simultaneously.

Since we cannot expect children under the age of 12 to truly understand these complex concepts, Coakley recommends that instead of putting children in a complex game they do not understand, we should:

  • Simplify game models
  • Change the dimensions of the fields to fit the size of the children playing
  • Cut the size of teams so that all children can get more touches, opportunities to pass, and opportunities to score

A link to the original post can be found here.

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Positive Partnerships

Today's blog is an announcement of Second Nature Sports partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance. A few weeks ago Steve was asked to become a certified coach and possibly even a trainer. He is currently in the process of meeting the necessary requirements for certification and beginning the mutually beneficial partnership. Steve, wholeheartedly believes in positive coaching and strives to maintain philosophy similar to what PCA believes in. Stay tuned for future updates on this relationship and Steve's progress. In this week's blog we feature an article from a great free resource provided by PCA, known as the PCA Development Zone, titled Running As Punishment For Poor Performance.

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports


positive coaching

Running As Punishment For Poor Performance

"My daughter's high school coach punishes the team for poor performance by having them run laps and do push-ups. What do coaches and parents think about that technique?"

PCA Response By David Jacobson, PCA Trainer & Senior Marketing Communications and Content Manager

One of the ultimate ironies of sports occurs when coaches discipline "lazy" players by making them run. Why is that ironic? Because it is lazy coaching.

If your players need conditioning, help them get it. If your players need discipline, help them get that. But don't fall back on running as discipline.

There at least two reasons:

  1. Your players will come to despise running and other forms of conditioning because it feels like punishment. You want them to love running so that they will want to run and become the best-conditioned athletes possible.
  2. You are abandoning an opportunity to teach life lessons about discipline, which is best done by talking about the subject and setting an example by exercising the discipline necessary to coach well.

For example, let's say that in an intra-squad scrimmage your players have trouble passing or receiving on the run. Don't default to punishing them with extra running. Instead, recognize the problem as one of conditioning and/or insufficient practice at these skills.

Address both issues at once by interrupting the scrimmage and instead of ordering laps in the name of "discipline" conduct a drill that demands running, passing and receiving. This way, their skills and conditioning both improve.

Your drill could include a competitive element, such as splitting the team in half and seeing who can complete the most passes on the run in a given time period. That helps avoid resentment that comes from mindless, endless laps and makes the practice fun so that players will want to continue acquiring the skills and conditioning they need. And you demonstrate creativity and discipline in your problem solving.

You then can explain to your players after the drill that instead of knee-jerk reactions, creativity and true discipline are better approaches to problem solving in sports and in life.

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Psychology and the Game of Soccer

emotion

Quite often when I am coaching youth players I notice many of them with very vivid reactions to mistakes. Whether it’s their use of words, facial expressions, or the frozen stance some seem to take on from dwelling on their “imperfections.”

What are the causes these reactions? Why do we all do it? (Yes, I am absolutely sure I did this as a player too) As an athlete I learned somewhere along the line to let things go. Quite honestly, I can’t recall an exact moment that influenced me but most likely a series of events, coaches, or teammates that led me down that path. And those of you, who knew me as a player, know this wasn’t easy nor was it ever complete.

If you coach young players I encourage you to take notice of this and to create an environment where “mistakes” are accepted and in fact encouraged. College coaches are constantly asked what they look for when they are recruiting a player and I can guarantee most coaches keep a keen eye on players’ responses to mistakes. I know I do. We all want the player who keeps going and works through issues on the field.

The fact of the matter is to become truly great at anything you are going to fail more times than you succeed. We’ve all heard the millions of quotes out there. When I work with attacking players I’m constantly talking to them about letting go of missed shots and opportunities. Move on to the next and do it quickly. As a goal scorer you must be relentless. There’s no other way to play. Soccer is a game of mistakes, many of them.

My point is this applies not only in sport but even more so in life. Can we build persistence at an early age on the field through encouragement and acceptance of mistakes? Can we instill in athletes that failure is going to happen and its okay?

A great way to look at this is having a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. When your athletes/children react by saying they “can’t” do something, I encourage you to take that opportunity as a teachable moment. Having a growth mindset opens doors for not only our own personal development but with our relationships with others as well.

- Christie Welsh

Additional Resources for parents and coaches is a book called Mindset by Carl S. Dweck, Ph.D.


Christie Welsh'sBio:
Welsh is a former assistant coach at the University of Oregon from 2013-2015 and Saint Joseph’s University in 2012, while also holding volunteer assistant coaching positions at Penn State and The University of Wisconsin.

She was a member of the U.S. National Team from 2000 until 2008. Welsh scored 20 goals over 39 international contests. During her time with the USWNT she remarkably scored 10 goals faster than any other player in American soccer history. She served as an alternate for the 2000 Sydney Olympics and she was part of the 2004, 2006, and 2007 Olympic and World Cup training residencies. Christie is also, a former Hermann Trophy winner and former professional soccer player for multiple teams.

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Turnkey Tools for the Parent-Soccer-Coach

First ever digital parent coach training tool   developed by former Harvard Soccer Coach

First ever digital parent coach training tool developed by former Harvard Soccer Coach

Columbus, Ohio Ask any recreational director what‘s the toughest part of their job and they will tell you:

  • Getting parents to volunteer to coach.
  • Having parent coaches adhere to the philosophies of the youth organization. 
  • Training parent coaches to not only effectively teach the game of soccer but also appropriately coach the child.  

The facts are clear: 

35% of all kids quit a sport each year & 75% of all kids quit all sports by the age of 13. Many families site the main reason their child quit a sport was due to a bad experience with the coach.

What’s the Solution?  

A perfect training session for a parent coach available in a matter of 2-3 minutes.  The Second Nature Digital Training Plan is the answer for the busy parent coach.  It allows access from their mobile device at practice.  The training session is designed for each practice with short videos, diagrams, graphics and photos. It’s an all- inclusive coaching kit that minimizes the time crunched parent coach’s prep time.   

Each digital training plan contains 5 main parts of a practice session from start to finish.  It includes a warm-up, stretching, soccer skill activity,   running activity and finally a “fun” game.  All sessions are age appropriate and produced for 3 different age groups: 3-5 year olds, 6-7 year olds and 8+  year olds. The method not only teaches skills for the game of soccer but also motor skill development, social awareness and an ongoing passion for the game. 

Developed by former Harvard Soccer Coach, collegiate and professional player, Steve Locker with the help of Ohio State University child psychologists.  This unique philosophy and coaching method “Second Nature”, is designed to enable coaches of youth recreation soccer to coach in a way that’s enjoyable for parents and players. 

For more information, visit Second Nature Sports. 

Contact:

Chris Arndt
Director
Second Nature Sports
614-792-5522 | Chris@2nsports.com

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A Testimonial For The ‘Average’ Kid

Average Kid

I recently had the pleasure of having a conversation with a Head of School and we were discussing some of the correlations between education and athletics. The bulk of the conversation was spent exploring ways for educators and parents to collaborate more on methods of developing children in a more well-rounded manner through both sports and education. As the conversation evolved, it became obvious to me that this educator had an incredible amount of knowledge regarding the development of children (from an educational perspective), and many of the terms that she used happened to be the same terms that I was applying to athletics.

She shared with me a story about her adult son who was a baseball fanatic as a child. He loved baseball. He loved playing the game, watching the game, and studying the game. As a family, however, they decided that they would not allow him to play ‘travel’ baseball in the summer. She feared that that decision may have held her son back at that particular point in his life, but she and her husband were not willing to force the kind of sacrifice that was necessary for this to happen, upon the rest of the family.

At first, it started out as one of those stories where parents lament that their child never fully experienced the game as perhaps he could have. This story was different. It turns out that he was able to make his high school team, a perennial power among top schools in the state. Not only that, this young man became a very productive member of a team that won a sate championship. Imagine the memories that go along with such a wonderful accomplishment.

My Head of School mom who was sharing this story was a bit perplexed by the entire phenomenon of how this all played out for her son. Most confusing to her was the fact that, in comparison to his classmates, her son wasn’t that strong of a player as a young athlete. She said there were plenty of other boys his age who were much better, but it seemed like they all quit before high school. She said they were the boys who were playing year round, had special coaches, played in multiple tournaments, and weren’t able to play other sports.

I get asked the question all of the time from parents about just wanting their child to be able to play high school sports, and I often advise them that everything should work out fine because 75% of the kids will quit by age 13 anyway. Most of those kids who are forced into specialization will usually burnout before they get to high school.

Because we parents only get one chance per child to do this right, we’re always a bit scared about doing it well. We don’t want to make any mistakes, and we don’t want our children to be left behind. As children are developing through their formative years of 6-13 (pre-puberty), the comparisons are difficult to ignore. What I have found to be very consistent is that so many of these children do catch up with each other around the age of 14, and those that have had a more relaxed, patient experience actually end up with better attitudes and a significantly increased chance of being successful in sports at older ages.

- Steve Locker

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