Breakaway, the Minor Hockey Podcast: Restoring a Healthy Balance in Youth Hockey

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by: Breakaway, The Minor Hockey Podcast

“I got pissed off with what I was seeing in the youth sports landscape. I started seeing things that were bothering me.”

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Nick Buonocore remembers when his idea for the Reformed Sports Project began.

He was at a little league baseball practice, happened to be led by former major leaguer Trot Nixon. In the bleachers, he overheard conversations from parents that left a bad taste in his mouth.

Here was Nixon, a former player at the highest level, volunteering his time to give back to the game by coaching seven- and eight-year-olds, and parents were too busy worrying about their kids playing in the incorrect position or the wrong drills being run in practice.

“I got pissed off with what I was seeing in the youth sports landscape. I started seeing things that were bothering me,” said Buonocore. “The biggest things that caught my attention were on the baseball field. I started to see an overwhelming amount of overzealous parents.”

Buonocore is a parent, volunteer coach, and former collegiate athlete with a unique, first-hand perspective on the changing culture of today’s youth sports industry. He established The Reformed Sports Project to promote a healthy and holistic approach in all areas of sport, through education and advocacy.

Growing up, Buonocore played whatever sport was in season. Now, as kids look to specialize at earlier ages, he’s noticed the ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out) effect take hold at the youngest ages of sports.

From spending more money on top of the line equipment to signing up for the most expensive skill camps, he worries that parents think that more money is equal to better skills. That’s not always the case.

What Buonocore wants is for parents to be able to make informed decisions on the best approaches in sport. He isn’t telling families what to do or not to do, but wants them to do the proper research before buying the latest gear or registering for a camp.

He also stresses the importance of remembering that kids may find other passions as they get older, and that’s okay. Whether it’s choosing another sport, joining a band, or losing their competitive drive to play at the highest level, these are all okay. Parents need to remember that it’s about what the kids find fun.

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