If your child is nearing high school age, and is a multi-sport athlete, chances are you’ve had conversations about them specializing or choosing one sport over another. You’ve probably had these conversations with each other, with your child and with coaches. With so much emphasis on winning, the pressure for coaches to have high performing teams is insurmountable. Some high school coaches are putting pressure on players to dedicate time to only their sport, instead of spreading time between other sports. When faced with this situation, there’s a few things to consider.
First, consider the source. Are you having these conversations with coaches? Let’s remember many coaches motivation is self-serving (remember myself and husband coach and it’s not every coach). Most coaches are not looking out for your child, they are looking out for their team or even themselves. Take what the coach says with a grain of salt and know there’s another coach waiting in the wings to discuss their intentions for your child, and most likely it’s the opposite of what you just heard.
Another source to consider is friends of your child. I bet you’re discussing this with them as well. While other parents are great sounding boards, friends of your child’s or teammates are probably not the best ones to discuss this decision. Again, part of their intention is self-serving. They want the best for their child first. While I know they care about your kid, that comes second to their flesh and blood. Any decision you make could have an impact on their child and therefore they may not be helping.
Now, I’m not saying to cease conversations with coaches and friends of the family, but I am telling you to take their opinions at face value. I don’t preach advice often, but take my advice here, listen and discuss with these people, but in the end don’t do what they want.
And lastly, the absolute most important thing to consider, is your child. Your child’s emotional well-being, your child’s development. How will this decision affect them, in the short-term and long-term? Have very real and truthful conversations with your kid. To many people this decision seems inconsequential. And maybe in the big-picture of life it is. But, for the next four years of your child’s life this decision is immense!
To your child, the weight of this decision could mean the difference of a college choice, could mean the difference of being a collegiate athlete, could mean the difference of giving up activities they’ve done from the time they were a tiny tot. This decision could change their identity or who they think they are or are going to be. This decision can change the course of how they thought things in high school were going to play out. So, yes, to an outsider looking in, it appears this decision is small in scale. But, to your child, it is EVERYTHING right now.
When faced with the decision to commit to one sport or to continue being a multi-sport athlete take all things into consideration. Think about the focus and time and money that will be poured into one sport or multiple, if that’s the decision. Think about how to balance it all, or just how to balance the one and school. Think about what the next four years looks like and the end goal. But, most of all, think about how this decision will impact the one you love the most, the athlete, your child.