Raising Empowered Athletes w Kirsten Jones

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Raising Empowered Athletes, by former D1 athlete Kirsten Jones, is the book parents need to navigate today’s youth sports culture.

Kids do not need to begin formal sports instruction in preschool, and they don’t need to specialize in a single sport in order to succeed or excel, Kirsten says. In fact, she recommends that kids “try everything” — all kinds of active, physical pursuits, including dance and solo sports – up until age 14 or so. Before that, sports participation should focus on the 3Fs:

  1. Friends
  2. Fun
  3. Fundamentals

Parents should also resist FOMO, the fear of missing out. Even if other families are opting for elite, travel teams, “you have to do what’s best for your family,” Kirsten says. “It’s a family values discussion. What do you value?”

Supporting Boys’ Athletic (& Human) Development

It can be hard to find coaches and teams that will support your son’s long-term development. Many teams (and coaches) are focused on winning at present, and may not have the time, resources, desire, or skills to nurture the development of boys who are undersized or still developing. You can support your son by finding ways to keep him physically engaged and working toward his long-term goals. Ideally, you’ll find him a coach (or coaches) who will value his determination, dedication, and skills. That, Kirsten admits, can be difficult.

Helping your son connect with a mentor — another boy who’s a few years or a level ahead of him, athletically — is one way to support his athletic development. “It’s really powerful,” Kirsten says, “to hear a peer say, I’ve been there, I’ve overcome that injury.'” Mentoring a younger athlete also helps older boys develop their skills and confidence.

In this episode, Jen, Janet, & Kirsten discuss:
  • How youth sports got so out of control
  • Resisting early specialization & FOMO
  • Encouraging physical activity
  • Helping kids advocate for themselves
  • Supporting late bloomers in sports
  • Healthy sports parenting
  • How parents undermine kids’ confidence & skill development
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

Raising Empowered Athletes: A Youth Sports Parenting Guide for Raising Happy, Brave, and Resilient Kids, by Kirsten Jones

Raising Athletes podcast

kirstenjonesinc.com — Kirsten’s website

Whole Child Sports: An Alternative to Toxic Youth Sports Culture — ON BOYS episode

Linda Flanagan: Youth Sports are Out of Control — ON BOYS episode

Healthy Sports Parenting — ON BOYS episode

Stephen Curry: Underrated — Apple TV show mentioned in episode

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