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Wash. Program Aimed to Prevent Burnout in Youth Sports

About 70 percent of kids drop out of sports by age 13 because they don't find it fun, according to a survey. (TonyTheTigersSon/Twenty20)
About 70 percent of kids drop out of sports by age 13 because they don't find it fun, according to a survey. (TonyTheTigersSon/Twenty20)
September 4, 2018

SEATTLE — The start of the school year also means the fall sports season is up and running. But are young people in athletics being pushed too hard?

Major League Baseball All-Star Nomar Garciaparra and former Seattle Mariners prospect Aaron Trolia believe so, and that's why they've started their own training academy. With backing from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the organization is supporting facilities and programs in Washington state, including the Northwest Prospects Academy and RISE Football.

Trolia, CEO of EL1, said the way youth are trained in sports is leading to burnout.

"There's so many people in positions of leadership right now that don't have the experience to teach someone else the skills and the knowledge for them to play the game safely, to grow safely at their own pace,” Trolia said; “and that's plaguing the industry right now."

Trolia said one of the goals of EL1 is to make sure coaches are properly trained so young people can stay healthy and interested in sports. According to a National Alliance for Youth Sports poll, 70 percent of kids drop out of sports by the age of 13 because they don't find it fun anymore.

Trolia said he's noticed a disturbing trend in youth sports where kids aren't interested in the journey, only the destination - that is, winning. He said that doesn't make for well-rounded athletes or people.

"The environment was the number-one indicator of why kids were leaving sports,” he said. “It wasn't inviting, it wasn't a mentorship, it wasn't guidance. It was about results. You are judged off of your results. And in that type of environment, there is no development."

Trolia said the goal of his organization is for players to stay fans after they've left the sport. EL1 will also support programs in Los Angeles.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA