There's no doubt that travel sports are a huge commitment...not just for the athlete but the entire family. A commitment in both money and time. Missed school...missed work...hours at practices....hours on the road....not to mention tournament fees, team fees, gear, uniforms, and still all the laundry that goes with it.
Coaches have expectations for competition at a new level: dedication, respect, perseverance. While most kids are apt to work hard on the field and during training, sometimes the element of expectations at home are forgotten...or overlooked. As parents, we want our kids to succeed and enjoy the activities they love, but just as the kids are held to a high level of accountability on the field, they need it at home too.
If you caught the recent- made for tv- Simone Biles movie, you may remember the scene when Simone tried to shirk her dishwashing chores onto her sister because she was tired and wanted to get to bed early for tomorrow's practice. Her mom's response? "We are not your fans, we are your family," and handed her the dish towel.
Kids who are physically and emotionally ready for travel sports are also physically and emotionally ready to take on these four responsibilities at home.
1. Pitch In. Hours at the field and weekends away mean less time to complete household chores. Bathrooms still need to be cleaned, the grass still needs to be mowed, the driveway still needs to be shoveled, and dishes need to be washed. Sticks break, pads are outgrown, leotards rip. Time or money- pitch in. Some older kids may juggle jobs along with their intense practice schedules- a few bucks chipping in for gear/fees help them recognize and contribute to the financial commitment. Younger kids? It's amazing how fast the dishwasher is unloaded if the car isn't leaving for practice until it's done!
2. Pack Healthy Snacks. Nutrition is vital for every athlete- just like skills and training. Refueling their body post practice/games is essential...especially during the first thirty minutes post-workout. Pick up an extra insulated lunch box and they're in charge of packing it with healthy, replenishing foods: fruit, greek yogurt, chicken & rice, celery & nut butter, extra water. They'll not only replenish glycogen levels, they'll boost nutrient intake over vending machine snacks.
3. Pack the bag. I don't play hockey. I've never been on a baseball or soccer team. Your team, your gear, your bag. If it's needed to play, they're in charge of ensuring it's in their bag.
4. Talk to the coach. Not enough playing time? Don't like your field position? Let the athlete address the coach first: how to increase playing time, which skills they need to improve, why the coach thinks you're better suited for different roles. Unless there's concern of safety, let your athlete start the conversation.
As time consuming- and expensive- as travel sports are, they're also an exciting opportunity for kids to step up to the plate...on and off the field. The coaches ensure they're prepared for the game, we ensure they're prepared for life.
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