I want to challenge you to think differently about the youth sporting structure.

Specifically, I want to share one unique insight from Serena and Venus Williams’ rise to dominance in the Tennis world.

If you haven’t seen the movie King Richard – this is a slight spoiler on the movie. The insight I want you to reflect on is how their dad pulled Venus out of junior competitions at 12 years old after going 63-0 in junior tournaments. For the next 3 years Venus and Serena focused on training and having a more ‘normal’ childhood focused on school, family, and being a kid.

Their father, Richard, felt that all the tournaments they were going to were not helpful to their character development and the ‘pressure’ was unnecessary at such a young age.

This unconventional decision obviously worked out pretty good for them.

It is a great example of thinking differently about the youth sport structure. He decided to not just go with the status quo. To me this is inspiring and revolutionary – it was a mindset first decision.

I’d be curious to see a 12 year old hockey player give up formal games and tournaments for 3 years – just focus on development (and save all the money and time traveling to games).

They could still scrimmage, play small area games, and learn fundamental team concepts. But the priority would be getting their touches in and optimizing their development.

I wonder what the impact on the players’ mental well-being and character development would be?

There is a ridiculous amount of pressure to perform and win on most AAA minor hockey teams and youth sports in general.

I’m not saying this is an obvious or easy decision. Instead, I’m using the contrast to encourage players, parents, coaches, and leaders throughout the game to be mindful of the structure and environment of youth sports. I challenge you to think differently – don’t just accept the status quo.