Don't Let Your Child Burn Out
So often, I has seen very gifted athletes lose their motivation and passion for a certain sport. Many young athletes are pushed by coaches, parents, other family members, and even peers to play sports year-round and at some point, children can get worn out and lose interest. The game stops becoming fun.
Take Delle Donne. In 2006, she was the top rated high school female basketball player in the country. Donne had scholarship offers to all of the D-1 basketball powerhouses and was a lock to play for the U19 Us Team. However, in 2007, she left basketball for two months and decided not to watch, play, or even talk about basketball. Later that fall, she attended the University of Connecticut, which boasts the number one women’s team in the country. She left Connecticut during her first year without ever playing a game and enrolled at the University of Delaware to play volleyball. After a year of playing volleyball, Donne returned to basketball as a member of the Delaware Blue Hens inspired and went on to be drafted by the Chicago Sky of the WNBA, play for the USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics, and become one of the best players in the league. This is an athlete who almost lost out on her dreams because she had lost the passion.
Once the love for a sport has been extinguished it is often impossible to reignite that spark. As parents and coaches, part of our job is too understand our kids and look for warning signs. Some young athletes can be pushed harder and longer than others. Some love the game more than anything else, while others do it for fun. Here are some ways to combat burning out.
Give them rest. Children’s schedules are hectic and long. From an early age, they spend seven hours at school, then are rushed of to practices and games lasting 2-3 hours, and then have homework to complete. Making you’re your child utilizes proper time management skills and receives adequate nutrition and rest can help their minds and bodies recover quicker and reduce fatigue. Also, make sure to give your child ample recovery time if they are sick or injured.
Encourage them to play multiple sports. Playing multiple sports is a hotly debated topic. Next Level has encouraged and designed a platform where young athletes can play multiple sports. Not only does it reduce the monotony and boredom of the same drills for the same sport, but it allows athletes to develop athletic skills that can be used over variety of sports. Many sports share similar movements. This experience also gives athletes they opportunity to find a sport that they love.
Make sports fun. Sports are not meant to be a job for children. They more fun they are, the less likely they are to be burnt out. Having honest conversations about their feelings towards sports they are playing and teams they are on can go a long ways. Make sure as a parent that you understand their goals. Obviously, a child who has a strong desire to go pro should be treated differently than a child that just plays to make friends. Understanding their goals will give you an idea of how to support and push them. Athletes, regardless of their aspirations, need time off. Breaks from the sport can renew the passion while allowing them to explore other interests.
Be their biggest cheerleader. There is no need to be upset or disappointed with the athletic performance of your child. There are so many bigger aspects of life than a single game. Let them know if they are not playing as hard as they should or if their attitude needs to change. These are the important aspects of sports that mold us into the individuals we are, not the stat lines.
Help them prioritize. Sports are such a small part of life, even for someone like myself that has made their living from sports. Help your child understand that education, family, strong morals and values, etc. all rank higher on their list of priorities than sports. This will help ensure that you are raising a balanced child that understands the importance of things outside of sports.
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