Diane Scavuzzo: In today’s highly competitive youth soccer environment, are parents and some coaches pushing their kids too hard?

VJ Stanley: The simple answer is yes. However, there is much more to that question than just a simple answer. The question to the question is why. Why are parents and coaches putting so much pressure on children at younger and younger ages to be very competitive and win?

The next question to those two questions is, do they have the facts to know whether this is even healthy for their children and players, both mentally and physically? Then they need to get to the question of if there is a long-term benefit to them by being so competitive, and the mantra that more is better. Now we have a fundamental base from which to continue, to be able to answer the question fully.

Let me start with the premise that just about anything that a child does pre-puberty will not have a long-term net gain on a child’s athletic success. Puberty changes everything.