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Feb, 2020

Football Development Model: The Benefits of Youth Sports

By Peter Schwartz | Posted 2/19/2020

Eleven years ago, my son Bradley stepped onto a youth soccer field at the age of three and that’s where our family’s youth sports journey began. And we wouldn’t trade for anything. Down the road, our younger son Jared also joined the youth sports scene on a soccer field but for both our boys, the overall experience in youth sports has garnered a number of benefits over the years. 

There’s no question that the biggest benefits that my boys have experienced have come on the football field, Bradley in tackle football and Jared in flag football. The benefits of playing youth sports, particularly as it pertains to football, make up one of the pillars of USA Football’s Football Development Model. From learning how to play the game to learn how to be a good leader and a good teammate, and to learn discipline, every child can benefit from competition and being on a team.

Being on a team can be a great vehicle for kids to create friendships as several schools could possibly feed a local program. That could give your child a chance to make friends with kids who may not necessarily attend the same school that your child goes to. In the years that my boys have played youth sports, they have created many strong friendships while also learning valuable life lessons through the experience of playing sports. 

Bradley’s experience in youth sports has focused on tackle football since he was four years old. Along the way, he has also participated in baseball, lacrosse, wrestling, soccer and street hockey. He’s a perfect example of why so many coaches in all of the sports stress that there is a benefit to playing multiple sports. There comes a point when a child can pick one sport to focus on but that shouldn’t happen until late in high school or in college but playing multiple sports at a young age is important to stay active and to utilize different muscles in your body.

By playing all of these sports, my son has become a well-rounded athlete and he likes to share his story with the coaches and players that he has met in the U.S. National Team Program. Through his experience, Sheryl and I have been able to interact with so many other parents in our community and around the country, evidence that there are also benefits for parents in the Football Development Model as we are able to share our experiences and offer our suggestions to other youth sports parents. 

My younger son Jared has also enjoyed the experience of playing multiple sports and has reaped so many benefits out of it. He’s made a lot of friends and he has learned how to be a really good teammate, something his coaches along the way. Playing sports, especially flag football, really brings out a happy and energetic feeling from Jared and he applies that to other things in life like schoolwork and also watching sports in person and on television.

He also loves playing baseball and street hockey because each of those sports allows him the opportunity to interact with other groups of friends and coaches but his experience in flag football has raised his level of excitement about the sport to the point where he has expressed an interest in trying tackle again when he gets to middle school. He wasn’t comfortable with tackle when he tried it a few years ago, but it’s something he thinks he will revisit. 

Given our experiences over the years and applying them to the emerging Football Development Model, there have been so many great benefits to our kids playing youth sports, especially football, and hopefully, down the road there will be even more. 

Peter is a sports anchor for the CBS Sports Radio Network, FOX News Headlines 24/7 and WCBS 880 Radio in New York.  His son Bradley plays middle school football on Long Island and is a participant in the U.S. National Team program while his younger son Jared plays flag football.   Peter, his wife Sheryl and the boys are busy cheering on the New York Jets and the XFL’s New York Guardians when they’re not at a youth football field. 

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