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Helping Your Kids Prepare for Spring Try-outs

Baseball, track, lacrosse, and soccer.  Spring try-outs are coming up, and your kids are eager to make the teams.  How can you help your kids prepare?

Physical Preparedness

Help your kids set physical preparedness goals.  For example, one goal topic may be incrementally increasing the distance that your kids can run.  Another might be incrementally increasing the speed with which your kids can throw a baseball.  You will need to set specific goals along with a timetable for achieving the goals.  Each time a goal is accomplished, set a new and more challenging goal.

Help your kids achieve physical preparedness goals.  Share as much of their preparedness journey as you reasonably can.  Reduce the amount of desserts and sugary snack foods that are in your home.  Focus on nutrition and the five food groups when preparing family meals.  Learn about carbo-loading in advance of physical exertion.  Make a fun afternoon out of a parent-child trip to the batting cages, track, field, or gym.  Practice and work out with your kids.  Bat some balls together at the batting cages; throw the baseball back and forth in your backyard.  Measure speed and aim when helping your kids practice pitching baseballs.  Take a stopwatch to the track and time your kids as they run.  Use lacrosse sticks to move balls around your backyard . . . help your kids get comfortable using the sticks (called crosses).       Kick a soccer ball around your backyard together; focus on coordination and agility.  Lift weights together; be a spotter for each other.  Go jogging together.  If your family has short-distance errands to run, don’t drive those short distances . . . walk them together.  Spend the walk time talking about health, fitness, body conditioning, sport techniques, etc.

Mental Preparedness

Encourage and share your kids’ enthusiasm for spring tryout-outs.  Engage your kids in excited conversation about preparing for and participating in sports.  Celebrate the attainment of each physical preparedness goal.  Discuss all the great opportunities and benefits that may come their way if they excel at sports (i.e., important life lessons, great friendships, college scholarships, etc.).

In the course of being enthusiastic, do not pressure your kids to play sports or excel at sports.  Encouragement is wonderful; pressure is not.

Prepare your kids for the down-side of try-outs and sport participation.  The down-side includes long hours of practice and physical exhaustion, struggling to balance practice time and homework time; a stressful drive for performance that can be internal to your kids or external (i.e., from coaches or others), criticism from others for real or perceived performance challenges, and rejection (i.e., not making the team, making the team but not being placed on varsity, being benched, etc.).  To help prepare your kids for these issues, inform them of the issues (be specific) and help shape their responses to the issues.  For example, you may say, “Spring try-outs are next week!  I am so excited for you!  I know you’ll do great!  Competition is tough this year, and lots of kids will do well and still not make the team.  Whether you make the team or not, you are already a winner to me!  You have made great progress in these last three months, and I am so proud of you for setting goals, putting forth great effort to achieve them, and then doing just that . . . achieving your goals!  You have an exciting summer coming up, with or without making the team!  (List of exciting summer plans that do not involve making the team.)   When you try out, your dad and I will be in the bleachers, cheering you on!  You’re going to do GREAT!”

By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of preparation for spring try-outs, you can help your kids be as well prepared as possible for the try-outs that are of interest to them.

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