As a parent who was a former athlete, I can spend hours telling you how important sports were to me growing up and how they’ve shaped me into my adult years. Now with a daughter of my own, I think of all the ways in which I hope her experience as an athlete will be as enriching as mine. In fact, I hope it’s ten times better; I would love to share my infinite wisdom 😉 with her regarding all those mistakes I made so she can be the athlete her pops never was. I would assume most parents feel this way; wanting their kids to do and be better. So without further adieu, here are 10 things parents (including myself) should do with their child athletes.
- 1. Make Strength & Conditioning (S&C) your Rock: Now I know I’m biased here as a strength and conditioning coach but participating in speed, agility, strength, and endurance training is THE best thing you can do for your child (why it’s #1 on the list). S&C develops all attributes of athleticism, and helps young athletes explore what their strengths are. It’s the type of training that’s more about the grit & grind, and all the behind to scenes work that athletes do. It’s not the most alluring aspect of athletic development, but it’s the key to continued growth as a competitor especially in the early years (ages 8-18).
- 2. Play Multiple Sports: There’s now evidence that the later an athlete matures, the more likely they are to achieve athletic greatness. If it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, try accumulating those hours over 10 years instead of 5. Playing multiple sports ensures your athlete won’t spend all their time on one skill and become too good too soon. Yes, you should be wary of athletes who dominate their sport at a young age, peaking too soon is real.
- 3. Allow Downtime: The “always working” or “no days off” mentality is for the birds. Truth is, taking time off is good for you, and necessary. Especially for youth athletes, days off are important because kids need to be kids, and staying fresh is what helps you give your best game when competing. I see parents packing their kids weeks with 6 days of sport related activities and it bums me out. Let them rest, and allow their bodies and minds to rejuvenate. Sports are fun and should stay that way. As soon as your busy athlete stops having fun, you’ve crossed into the territory of burnout. A couple days off wont hurt.
- 4. Allow your child to discover their strengths: Sounds like common sense but as an athletic performance coach I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen kids who look better suited for cross country then football. I was a strength and power type of athlete, but I want my daughter to compete in the sport she’s best suited for as an athlete. Too often I see parents try and fit their kids into a sport they want instead of what best for their child. Foster a spirit of discovery when it comes to sports and you’ll find your child will be much happier for it.
- 5. Don’t play the same sport year round: This is the trend in youth sports currently, and this point is very similar to #2 and #3. But what I want to get across here is that if there are now known benefits to playing multiple sports and time off can prevent burnout, who does the current sport model for youth athletes serve? It can be argued that it doesn’t necessarily benefit the athlete. Is this model more conducive to organizations and leagues who capitalize on our country’s unquenchable thirst for sports, competitive spirit, and the need for D1 scholarships? All we can say for certain right now is year round sports are not necessary. If pro athletes have off-seasons, youth athletes should certainly have them as well.
This might seem a little controversial to some, or obvious, or it may be new information. Either way, I would never suggest anything I wouldn’t implement myself. Check back for the remaining 5 tips on my next blog post. Until then, for more information check out our Programs, or Contact us directly at the Boost Performance Center in Corona, CA.