Professional Soccer Star Alex Morgan on the Downsides of Youth Competitive Sports

Sports should be an outlet—not create more pressure, the star athlete says.

It's no secret that soccer star Alex Morgan is a competitive person—most professional athletes are. But Morgan, a forward on the US Women's National Team, has a message for young soccer players looking to achieve the level of success she's reached: You don't have to let sports dictate your life in order to excel.

"I think the whole structure needs to change," Morgan tells Health, speaking about the toll that heavy involvement in sports can take on children's well-being. "I think the pressures to compete so many days a week and on the weekends in so many different states is completely unnecessary and really wasteful, financially as well."

A common misconception Morgan hears is that to be a great soccer player, a young kid has to compete every week. "I think a lot of girls think that in order to become a national team player, you have to start really serious at the age of eight years old. That's just not true," she says.

The fact that children are often pushed to focus on just one sport and stick with it so they become stars also troubles Morgan, who partnered with GoGo squeeZ, a company that manufactures food products geared toward kids. "Sports are really restricting kids [so they can't] play multiple sports," she says.

Morgan's overall take is that the culture of youth sports is capable of doing more harm than good, and that parents and coaches need to be aware of how much stress sports teams can add to children's lives. "Sports should be the outlet rather than create more pressure," she believes.

Watch the rest of Morgan's deep dive in the video above.

Deep Dives is a Health video series where inspiring people talk about a health topic that's meaningful to them and share relatable stories around health and wellness. Watch Alex Morgan's Deep Dive above!

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