Ask the Expert
by Dr. Ginsburg
QUESTION: "My child works so hard to become better in the game of lacrosse, lots of training, lots of wall ball, yet the sport comes so much easier to other kids. She loves the game, but is it worth sticking with if it comes harder to her than other kids?"
The answer to this question is complex because important factors need to be considered. What is the age of your child? Does she enjoy playing with her teammates? What are the impressions of her coach? The reality in the athletic experiences of our children is that at some point, they are going to face failure. They arenít going to be the best on the team. They are going to notice that some of their peers are bigger, stronger, faster or quicker than they are. This is a normal experience. In fact, those athletes who never face adversity, who never have to struggle to find their place on a team or work their way into getting some playing time are at risk of being ill-prepared for the challenges of life as an adult. We need to be comfortable with the natural process of athletic competition. A child under the age of 12 is still maturing in size, cognition and physical coordination. She may not develop into an outstanding athlete, but it is too early to tell. Conceivably, her hard work may pay off, and at some point, she may become more competitive. On the other hand, if she is approaching high school and is moving closer to her physical maturity, she may well be facing clearer indications of her athletic ability and potential. If this is the case, she will have to come to terms with the fact that she will likely play a smaller role in the team and quite possibly receive less playing time, or even no playing time at all. At this point, she will need to decide whether it is still enjoyable to play. Some athletes just love working hard and being a part of the team. Others may need to play more, and they may choose to quit or find another sport.
But, as we all know, even Michael Jordan was cut from the varsity basketball team as a sophomore in high school, so if the passion for the game is still there, and your daughter is having fun and is finding a way to feel a part of the team, I see no problem with the fact that she has to work harder than other kids. This may well mean that when life gets tough as she gets older, she will be that much more prepared to work hard and use her resources to persevere. Isnít this what sports are all about? As a parent, I would begin to experience some concerns if my daughter became so discouraged that she was no longer having fun or enjoying her time with her peers. If this were the case, this might be a time to talk to her about testing out a few other sports. I have seen many instances where young athletes have come to terms with their athletic strengths and weaknesses and have consequently found other teams and flourished in them.
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