Kids and sport – how much is too much?

Kids love sport, but at what point are they doing too much of it? How can you tell if it’s become too much?

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Sport for general fitness

According to NHS Livewell, children aged 5-18 should be engaged with at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day. Perhaps this should be a good indicator of how much is too much, although it’s worth remembering that some of this time should be child-led exercise, such as playing in the park or the woods.

Elite sporting children

Children in elite squads or teams can find stress and strain on their body actually leads to physical problems later on. They also face emotional imbalance, as they stress about their performance and how to make coaches and parents happy. Look out for signs that your child is no longer enjoying their elite level of sport – this may manifest as mood swings, refusal to get out of bed or reluctance to attend. If your child is on an elite team or squad, or indeed participates in any sport at a very high level, check in every so often to ensure they are happy. Just because they could be the next Andy Murray, it doesn’t mean you should compromise their long term emotional and physical wellbeing to get there.

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Too many sports

For some children, it’s simply the case that they have been enrolled in too many sports. Maybe your child does running club on Monday, karate on Tuesday, football on Wednesday, swimming on Thursday and fencing on Friday. Each of these has its own rules to learn and another social circle to navigate. Do accept that at some point, it may just be too much for them.

Parents and coaches

As the parent or coach, it’s your responsibility to ensure children in your care are happy. For example, football coaches can be easily distracted buying football team kits from retailers such as or creating a new strategy for the season ahead, but children’s welfare should always be number one on their priority list.

In summary, too much is when a child feels overstretched physically, emotionally or academically. The best way to ascertain whether you are pushing your child too much in sport is simple – ask them.