Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reforming youth sports at a large round table

I'm back at my laptop after spending the weekend attending the Lake Placid Sport Forum, a first-time conference to consider the troubled state of youth sports.

About two dozens of us were invited - a college hockey coach, three former U.S. Olympians, two orthopedic surgeons, a physical therapist, a sport psychologist, a radio talk-show host, two former NHL players and last, and perhaps least, six journalists, among others. For a couple of days, we sat around a large round table listening to each other's ideas about where sports for kids went off the tracks and coming up with a plan to do something about it.

Whether we've set the stage for a serious, ongoing effort remains to be seen. I felt privileged to be included.

A word about the organizers. Mara Smith, Lake Placid resident, sports performance consultant, had the idea to bring together a group to talk about a rescue plan for kids and sports. Mike Richter, part-time Lake Placid resident, Yale grad, father of youth hockey players, former New York Rangers goalie, got behind the idea and helped make it happen. Mark Messier, Richter's former Rangers teammate, attended and, like Richter, spoke eloquently throughout the sessions. The Aspen Institute provided support and a terrific moderator in Charlie Firestone.

The issues - how do you persuade parents that travel teams at age 8 actually can prevent kids from reaching their potential as athletes? - are complicated, bordering on intractable. I'm encouraged that 25 people are concerned enough to have spent a weekend talking about it.


Brian McCormick said...

Interesting. Any recommendations? Check out the Youth Basketball Coaches Association: http://learntocoachbasketball.com. Same principles. Long term development. Athlete-centered coaching. Coaching through mastery, not just wins & losses.

But, as you say, it starts with changing parents' mindsets:

Dan said...

Thanks for reporting on this meeting. Getting like minded individuals across different disciplines to discuss youth sports will go along way in helping to "fix" the youth sports industry in the US.

I would suggest getting similar groups together in different part of the country. I would help to organize such a meeting in Boston.


Mark Hyman said...

All those items on the YBCA agenda and more. Aspen Institute and the Lake Placid group will be putting out a report on the meeting and next steps in a few months, I believe.