A recent conversation with my son after picking him up from a Monday basketball practice, just after spending a weekend playing baseball.
Me: How was practice?
Him: It was good – we had to run a lot though.
Me: You must be tired.
Him: Mom, I’m always tired.
Playing Multiple Sports 6 Things to Consider
When your young athlete makes that important decision to play multiple sports he or she must be prepared. In turn, the parents need to be prepared to be supportive of their sport endeavors by putting in time and resources. It really is a family, or “team” effort.
In my laundry room I have basketball, baseball and football uniforms. Watching my two sons play and enjoy sports is such a wonderful thing but it also keep us wonderfully busy. I have learned many things about having my sons play sports, especially having a multi-sport athlete.
The decision has to come purely from them. And when they are sure they want to tackle multiple sports, the parent needs to be equally prepared. I’m learning a lot by observing the things my son has to do in order to be successful. I’m also learning what I have to do as a parent to foster and manage his desire to play multiple sports. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
You will be busy – super busy: Multiple practices a week and games just about every weekend becomes the norm. But you must pick your spots to make sure there is other types of family time and, most importantly, allow your athlete that occasional break.
Sacrificing social activities: As a multi-sport family we have missed some family functions. Some, not all. As mentioned prior, be prepared to pick your spots, but even then, this is difficult especially at the high school level.
Time management: This is something that I have to do as well as my boys. I have to meal plan, organize schedules and household items. My boys have to learn that as students and athletes (notice the order) they need to plan out homework, school projects and household chores. We all quickly learn how to prioritize.
Communication with coaches: This one is tricky, especially at the high school level. Your son must be prepared to have the lines of communication wide open with their coaches. Knowing practice times, knowing what color jersey to wear to that day’s game, etc. There will undoubtedly be a time where your son or daughter may have to request flexibility from a coach if there is a conflict between the two sports. This is inevitable and although it is important to provide support and advice, it is your athlete’s responsibility to navigate these situations.
Keep it fun and avoid burnout: This one’s also tricky. However, what I’ve found is that my oldest son, who plays basketball and baseball, really looks forward to getting back on the court or baseball field once he’s been away from one or the other for a period of time. Playing multiple sports is a wonderful thing for kids, but eventually for many, there’s a fork in the road where one sport is all they want or need.
Cost: Here’s where more sacrifice comes in. Understanding that there will be fees stacking up with multiple sports is important. This gets even tougher as they get older – monthly fees, new shoes, out of state trips, spirit packs at high school. For a working family, it can be hard, but certainly doable with certain sacrifices.
As much as a parent tries to minimize the pressure to perform in one sport (much less two) there is always a strain on any young athlete playing club, travel, or high school sports. This can sometimes be tough when a multi-sport athlete is trying to perform at a certain level in more than one sport and most important, performing in the classroom. The parent has to not only be supportive from a time and resource standpoint, they must also show unwavering support to ease any type of pressure the multi-sport athlete may feel. You are along for the ride, but never lose sight that it’s their decision, and ultimately, their life.