We live in a very different time now compared to when I was growing up. I remember growing up, playing multiple organized like sports, hockey, baseball, soccer, and swimming, to name a few. And that doesn’t include the hours upon hours of being outdoors with my friends in a field playing games, climbing trees, or in a driveway playing street hockey, kick the can or hide and go seek until it got dark outside. Times have changed. For some, leisure has been turned to online experiences, for some, they have honed in to more specific activities to try and elevate or expedite the speed at which progress is achieved within one’s growing passion for a particular sport. Nevertheless we see less and less of a general fitness base across any foundation to movement; It is the way our societal norms have been changed, molded, and reflected onto our children to proceed, which may be a mistake. Abundant intrinsic and extrinsic pressures, physical biases, and plain old overdoing one thing, can lead to an abrupt and surprising exit from his or her loved sport. But how can we stop that from happening? There is a solution!
First let’s look at the most common reasons as to why a kid would leave the sport they once loved so much that they basically lived it. Well, the answer is in the that particular phrase. THEY LIVED IT! Day in and Day out, lived, slept, breathed, ate, and bled that one passionate sport that they fell in love with at a young age. It happened to me. I was lucky enough to have gone through this in my quest in attaining results with the sport of Baseball. I have the fortune and opportunity to play baseball at an elite level on a full scholarship at a school in Iowa, followed with a few years play semi-pro baseball in southern Ontario. All this to say that I know what these kids are going through. I was lucky though. I had the opportunity to experience more than just one sport. Today, once a sport has been chosen because of love for the game, we give “All in” into that sport. Specific Training for that sport, Playing that sport, studying the sport, thinking that if we want any chance at success, every minute spent should be on that particular sport. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes there will be success with that method, but we have to be realistic as well.
First, let’s have a look at what may happen when we follow those steps to eliteness. The first thing should be asked. Who actually wants this more? The parent or the child. I’m not going to go in detail about the extrinsic pressures on a performance but we have self evaluate and see how much undue pressure we are putting on their actual performance? Do we want their end success more than them, as is living vicariously through their performing successes? Or are we sitting back and supporting? Because I can tell you this, they are intrinsically applying more pressure that you can understand on themselves to perform better, to run faster, to score a goal, to make you happy, to help the team, to win…… and that is just the tip of the iceberg. How long can they manage that psychological stress in one particular avenue (sport) before they break and rebel or cower.
Secondly, the same sport, day after day, month after month, for years – can that lead to amazing success? Can you imagine having chicken and rice for lunch and dinner day after day, month after month, for years? Sure at the beginning chicken is delicious, and rice with veg is tasty, but you can only add so much spice, and change up the veggies so many times before that food starts to get to you. You can even try to cook it differently to change it up. Sure you still are getting amazing results in terms of goals to lose weight or gain muscle in your training. But you will reach that threshold where you will want to have nothing to do with chicken and rice. That in a nutshell is what happens more often than not with sport specific overtraining. I apologize for that analogy, i actually like chicken, but you get my point. There needs to be some variety and change to allow progress to continue without an extreme chance for rellion and/or flat our quitting.
My final argument guiding us to my eventual point about CrossFit is the physical strain on a developing body. Imagine a muscle being worked every day in the same manor. The body gets used to it, creates an adaptive response to it muscle grows, gets stronger to manage that stress, getting better at that movement, faster at that movement, getting better outputs from that movement for the sport. But look at all the imbalances that arise from that. Yes they will be stronger for the sport but what happens when they are just playing around in the backyard? Or horsing around with friends the basement – the weaker untrained muscle are at a far more vulnerable state that can create injury. Let’s also go back to that one muscle being trained over and over, microtears happens (don’t worry it is the adaptive response – its normal), it heals, then the same thing happens again tomorrow, then again the day after that, swelling starts setting in, aggravated tissue cause pain, it gets worse, all this repetitive same movement training for sport specific training can lead to overuse or stressed tissues that can lead to injury. These are just 2 small examples of the physical abuse that our bodies can go through when the training is constant, unwavering and without any variation to movement.
But there is a saving grace, a simple solution and am going to tell you what it is. And no CrossFit is not it, but it can help. The solution is to change things up. Let, ok make our kids experience different sport stressors! Have them play hockey in the winter, play baseball in the summer, football in the fall, swimming in the spring; Have them play a multitude of different games and sports to allow them to grow with balance physically and mentally. Allow them to experience not being good at something. Challenge their coordination, their patience and their drive to get better. Force them to excel at something outside of their comfort zone. Let them explore and discover different methods for anything! Variety, variety, variety is the name of the game for their overall wellbeing. And guess what, they will get better at the specific sport that they are so passionate about. Because anything that they have learned outside of their sport will transfer to their sport. Ok now is where my biased opinion come in. There is no other sport or activity that promotes all around fitness adaptation than CrossFit. It takes every varied pillar of fitness and mixes it all up to prepare and test those who do crossfit for the unknown. Be it gymnastics, power, strength, aerobic conditioning, coordination, speed, accuracy …the list goes on, CrossFit will force an adaptive state and improve everyone’s boundaries and limitations beyond what they are accustomed to . So to answer the title of this blog, letter, whatever you want to call it; YES your kids should do CrossFit! They Should do CrossFit if they have nothing else to fall back on, they should do CrossFit if they are training sport specific, this will create the variance. They should do CrossFit if they want to get stronger at their sport, if they want to get better at their sport…. Every aspect of CrossFit can and will skill transfer to their sport of choice. Furthermore, it will give them the tools to fall back on when getting outside their comfort zone physically and psychologically!
But at the very least, let them keep that passion alive by missing it once in a while.