My 18 year-old son, Robert, caught the "sports bug" in 2004, when he was 5 years old. Since then, he has played sports non-stop — with friends in the yard, on countless organized youth teams, and at his high school, where this year he is captaining the varsity cross-country and baseball teams. This coming fall, Robert will head off to college, bringing the first phase of his sports life to a close, so I decided this would be a perfect moment to interview him about his "sports childhood."
The Hockey Dad: How did playing pickup sports affect your athletic development?
Robert: In terms of developing my ability, it was everything. Especially baseball. I practiced a lot because I loved it, and that’s what made me get better and better. It wasn’t just the time I spent practicing, it was the fun I had doing it. If you’re not having fun when you’re practicing, you’re not going to get better.
Also, playing pickup sports with friends gave me a taste of a lot of different sports, and that made me want to play those sports on organized teams. For example, playing hockey on the backyard rink made me want to join a hockey team, and playing basketball in our driveway made me want to join a basketball team.
Pickup sports is also a social event. My memories of pickup sports are of "having fun" because I was with my friends, and we were choosing to do it. Playing sports is just what we did when we were together.