Why Youth Sports Team-Hopping is a Bad Idea

Sandlot teamWhen things get uncomfortable on a youth sports team, many parents and athletes resort to team-hopping.

Let me explain first what team-hopping is not.

It is not when your child finishes a season and moves on to the next level of competition.

It is not when your child changes club teams because he or she is ready for a new challenge.

It is not when your child loves a certain coach and leaves a team to go play for him.

Team-hopping is not just the act of changing teams.

Team-hopping is more of an attitude that manifest itself in a variety of ways:

When your child doesn’t get the playing time he wants and so he jumps from team to team until he finds a coach who will give him what he wants.

When your child wants to play a certain position and so he switches schools or keeps looking for a team until he finds one that allows him to play his spot.

When your child jumps from school to school or from club team to club team because he can’t get along with the coach or team…a very telling pattern.

In Tim Tebow’s biography, Through My Eyes, A Quarterback’s Journey, Tim talk about how his dad insisted he play quarterback and moved him to a school that would let him play it. I can’t help but wonder if Tim would still be playing professional football if his dad hadn’t done that? Even though he was a rockstar in college and even had a few bright spots in the PROs, could it be that the high school coaches were on to something when they concluded that maybe, just maybe he was better suited to another position on the field? Something to think about.

Change is good, Change is okay, but Youth Sports Team-Hopping is More about Avoidance Than Change

When you let your kids set a pattern of coach/team-hopping, what are you saying to them?

You are telling them it’s okay to jump ship every time something gets hard. You are telling them that it’s okay to run away when things don’t go the way they like.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying you should never change teams or schools. I’m saying that when you let your child make team or coach-hopping a habit that continues throughout his youth sports career, you are encouraging a habit that can follow your child through the rest of his life.

I knew a young athlete who changed schools several times throughout middle school and high school, always looking for a better athletic situation. He did not move to a new neighborhood or town; he did not need to change schools. He changed because he was looking for something easier.

Today he’s a young adult who’s probably had half a dozen jobs in the past four years. The habit of jumping around began in middle school and continued to adulthood. He’s constantly looking for something better, something easier, and when he doesn’t find it, he figures it’s time to move on.

Call it a restless spirit, call it freedom, call it anything you want. But the truth of the matter is that the habit of running from uncomfortable situations also results in the deprivation of growth through challenges.

The decision to change teams or schools–for the sake of sports–should not be made lightly, and it should not be made habitually. Be finicky about your choice to change; counting the cost will most likely help you make wiser choices and keep you from jumping ship at every storm.

From The Sports Parenting Podcast | JBM Thinks