James Leath is the Lead Speaker and Content guru for Changing the Game project. He has decades of experience as a presenter for youth, collegiate and professional athletes ...
The mission of the Changing the Game Project is to ensure that we return youth sports to our children, and put the ‘play’ back in ‘play ball.’ We want to provide the most influential adults in our children’s lives – their parents and coaches – with the information and resources they need to make sports a healthy, positive, and rewarding experience for their children, and their whole family. Parenting and coaching young athletes is an art, not a science, and the information you find here can help you navigate the maze of youth sports, and put a smile on your young athlete’s face, whether he or she is 6 or 16 years old.
This site is your one stop shopping for the latest and greatest information, research, and best practices regarding high performance, motivation, Long Term Athletic Development, fitness, nutrition, college recruiting, and more. Here you will find resources, training, videos, and books that can help you become the best parent or coach a kid could ever ask for. It will help ensure that you do your part to make youth sports a wonderfully positive part of your child’s physical, social, and cognitive education.
It is hard to venture out to any youth sports fields these days and not think to ourselves “There is something wrong with this picture.” Youth sports do not look like they did 20 or 30 years ago. Sure there were a few ‘crazy’ coaches and over the top parents, but for the most part kids still ‘played’ sports. It was fun. They were fearless. There were no cameras streaming 10 year old baseball games live online. There were not high school basketball coaches lining up for the signature of the next great middle school recruit. And we certainly did not watch commercials telling us that we need $300 soccer shoes and $400 baseball bats if we hoped to compete next weekend. Things have changed, and not only in sports, but throughout our country.
One of the biggest changes is the massive increase in sedentary, non athletic lifestyles in our country. And one of the main reasons for the decrease in activity is the staggering number of kids who drop out of sports at a young age. An incredible 70% of kids drop out of organized athletics by age 13. Seventy percent! Some drop due to financial constraints, others due to time constraints, but most stop playing because it just is not fun anymore. The people responsible for this, and the only ones who can change it, are the adults, and that means you and us.
We face quite a few challenges if we plan on trying to move the bar and get the adults out of our kids’ games. Youth sports is a multi billion dollar industry now, with many corporations, hotels, small businesses, even entire cities, dependent upon the youth sports industry. The entities competing for players and their dollars have driven up the price, and the stakes, of youth sports. The corporations that provide athletic opportunities, run events, and sell equipment, count on sports to improve their bottom line. And parents, often against their better judgment, are forced to keep up, or made to feel guilty that they have cost their child a college scholarship, or a shot at the pros.
There are some people who argue that sports have become too important in our society. I completely disagree! In fact, I would say that sports have never been more important then they are today. As popular culture has begun to overemphasize values that we may not consider positive, such as fame, wealth, and popularity, we need sports more then ever to teach our children traditional core values. There are few other places for them to learn things such as sportsmanship, teamwork, humility, determination, and courage. There are even fewer environments where we can encourage our kids to be healthy risk takers, overcome challenges, and look upon obstacles as opportunities, and not as excuses to fail.
Over the last few decades, we have done a pretty good job educating players and coaches. Unfortunately, we have neglected to educate, assist, and encourage the most important adults of all, the parents of our young athletes. Not anymore! In front of you is a wealth of information that will improve your child’s athletic experience, and for that matter, your whole family’s athletic experience. Being a great sports parent has never been more important, and its never been more challenging. But there is hope.