perspective for pushing sports

 - - - - -

The boy, twelve years old, appears about fourteen. Loves baseball. Pitched quite well for the team during the playoffs, which also earned him severe shoulder pain.

In the clinic, the boy rolls his head and drops his shoulders when I ask him to complete a second circuit of light scapula stabilization exercise. But he's willing. Dramatically drags himself back toward the weights. It's not that the exercises cause shoulder pain. He's already tired from swimming poolside horseplay in the heat all day. That, and he's twelve. 

His dad, standing by, rolls his head and drops his shoulders.

"See? He has to understand that if he wants to stay healthy and improve, he's going to have to work at it. I just don't know how much to push a twelve year-old."

Dad is right to say that at some point, a young man absolutely must decide for himself if he wants to be the best player he can or just have fun. Either choice is definitely fine, but one requires enormous sacrifice and effort. For most children, 12 years of age is far too soon to face that decision.

How much should a parent push a twelve year old? In most sports like baseball, not much. People of all ages do benefit greatly from some structure and direction. But there's a fine line between inspiring our children to adapt an active lifestyle and dragging him or her half way across the state for their club team. So long that a boy is not sitting around all the time, there's very little room to push at all.

Dad, you have to make him want it.

Inspiring my daughter on the joys (and pains) of an active lifestyle
Which is impossible, of course. I don't think we can make a child passionately driven to high level athletic (or any type of) success any more than we can make him have a favorite food. On the other hand, the formula for burn-out is pretty simple. One great way to make a kid hate pizza is to start him early on pizza and push pizza every day and always talk about pizza.  

How much should this father challenge this son to excel in athletics? Who am I to say? It probably depends on both the father and the son. It probably changes from month to month. To the fathers credit, he knows his son well. Clearly loves him. Shares loads of time with him.

Later, over some hands-on shoulder work, I told them that they both love baseball, and I think that's a great start. I reminded the boy that as he gets older and the competition improves, he will probably suffer a few more defeats than he's use to right now. That's when he'll learn some things about what he wants to do with his time.

Either choice really is okay. Lord willing, the boy will find passion for something. He'll need a father who challenges him and supports him. He'll need some time to horseplay in the pool. These are all good things.

 - - - - -

No comments:

Post a Comment