We’ve all thought it – “What if my kid grows up to play in (insert professional sports league)?” It's an exciting possibility, and while the percentages might not be in your (or anyone else’s) favor, there are certain things you can do to help your child reach their full athletic potential.
• Put an early emphasis on being active – When people think of health, they most likely think of a gym or treadmill. While that may help most adults, it’s going to look different for your kids. Helping your children get into enjoyable, healthy habits while they’re young can have a huge impact down the road.
Whether it’s riding their bike to school, going on family hikes or getting them into jump-roping, making healthy activities a part of their life – while they’re young – is extremely important. Physical health is a necessity in every sport, and starting your child young can pay dividends. Be careful not to overwork your child, especially when they’re younger – keeping activities enjoyable is important for their personal motivation.
• Put an early emphasis on good nutrition – Maybe more important when it comes to health is good nutrition. Easy to say, hard to do. Cheap, greasy foods are all over the place for children, especially when they reach their teenage years. Teaching your child to say no to certain foods (and yes to others) can go a long way in helping your child reach their full athletic potential. Taking care of your body is of the utmost importance in whatever level of athletics your child is at.
• Make sure they enjoy the sport they play – No one enjoys being forced to do something. If your child consistently expresses the desire to not play a certain sport, listen to them. Find out why. If it’s a reason that can be overcome (like being nervous or not knowing anyone on the team) then see if you can make it a good learning experience for your child. If they genuinely don’t like the sport, let them walk away and find one they enjoy playing.
• Introduce them to other hobbies – Having time to learn, enjoy and participate in other hobbies can be extremely beneficial from an athletic and mental standpoint. Many professional athletes have pointed to other hobbies as a crucial piece of their childhood. Various NBA players grew up fishing, playing music or learning ballet (yes, ballet). The specific activity isn’t as important as the fact that there was another activity. Having another hobby or two to turn to can decrease the chances of becoming burned out in sports, and can increased their level of enjoyment across all activities.