Are we Pushing our Kids Too Hard?

Time and time again the first question I’ll usually get asked by parents is exactly this.

How much training is too much?

By all reports these parents are more than happy to pursue the hectic schedule of the sporting parent. There is no cost too large, time available too limited, or information sourced too limited to ensure their child succeeds in their sporting endeavour… Hopefully one of these reasons is why you’re reading this now!

Whilst there isn’t a simple answer (X) to this frequently asked question, there is one way you as a sporting parent can establish this. By all reports general rules of thumb are exactly that ‘general.’ But if you’re reading this, I’d love for you to be able to take something away, and hopefully allow you a little more self-time in the process otherwise known as sanity.

Because after all 1 child’s sport may be manageable to arrange- but 2, 3 or 4…. Argghhhh!

So here goes, take your child’s age and divide it by the number of hrs participated in weekly (both training and competing) in their chosen sport/s and see if the answer is 1!

Child’s age / Number (hrs) of weekly sporting participation = X


David is 12yrs of age and participates in both Rugby Union/Football for club/ school respectively over the winter season. Training includes 2 x 1.5hr training sessions (for both), and games (60mins) on alternating days over the weekend (Sat/Sun). This equates to 8hrs, or 1.5 using the above formula.

If your answer is >1, you’re winning. You’re less likely to have your child exposed to an overuse injury and may even increase their sporting satisfaction. If it’s <1, it may be time to re-evaluate. Stressors and the body’s reactions as a result of this may well reduce your child’s ability to flourish in their sport. Alternatively, a similar stress is probably something you yourself are familiar with in trying to keep up with such challenging schedules.

But before you ask the next question, ‘Does this include supplementary training?’ (i.e. your child’s weekly PT/ Strength and Conditioning session) the answer is yes!

… Or you might have one more question, ‘What if they play multiple sports?’, the answer is still yes! It is any structured training/competition engaged in. But, good on you for encouraging them to play multiple sports (insert applause here). I would just personally try and distribute them throughout a sporting/seasonal year (stay tuned for future blog posts on this later!).

So, if you’re in the red zone it’s ok… No one’s going to call 000. It’s just a simple gauge to see where you’re at in planning your child’s next sporting fixture! Below are some suggestions of how to combat this:

  • Reduce ‘structured’ training (i.e. lessons/squads/teams), encourage ‘unstructured’ play time (kicking a footy/ or shooting a netball at the park)

  • Prioritise sport over supplementary training (i.e. PT/Strength and Conditioning)

  • Decide on your child’s seasonal sport participation.

But before you shoot me down and tell me how ridiculous this is (more than likely because you’re in the red), this is just an example of how to answer that question you may well be seeking. Remember, this is exactly that- a general rule of thumb. There are other variables to consider for individual circumstances (i.e. age or maturation level of elite/professional competition of particular sports, training history etc).

I’m also well aware time and time again there has been sporting greats accomplish historical feats by partaking in far more hrs of training/competition than that suggested above… but unfortunately whilst your child may well be on their journey to become the next Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods, or Serena Williams… they’re not there yet!

I’d love you to share or comment on how useful you how found this, or any of my other blog posts. Alternatively, if you have a particular question- please feel free to shoot it across and I’ll do my best to base a blog on it in future.