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6/20/19 blog post

leveling up

supporting your athlete while leveling up

What happens when your “elite” athlete is no longer THE best?

As a parent, you’ve walked with them in their sport from toddler to youth sports… from club teams to making varsity.

But the further they get in their sport, the harder these transitions can be. Especially for those who move on to participate in college athletics.

To move up a level in play, you typically have to be one of the best athletes in your area. However, that also means you're going to a level where everyone was one of the best in their area too.

How can you help your teen or young adult athlete make the transition so they continue to excel and enjoy the sport they once fell in love with?

Here are 3 tips for a successful transition:

1. Starting over and learning from others

One thing many players fail to understand is that they're essentially starting from square one when moving to the next level of play. It does not matter that they were all-state. It does not matter if they set a bunch of records. It doesn't matter how many points they scored. Your young athlete now has to prove themselves to their new team that they have what it takes to play with the best of the best.

As a parent, talk to your athlete about this transition before it happens. Remind them that they are joining a whole team of elite athletes and that even if they are longer THE best, they now have a unique opportunity to LEARN from other elite athletes and continue to improve in their sport. Be sure to check in with your athlete regularly as they make the transition!

2. Self-care

Everything your athlete does will be more intense and since they are trying to prove themselves, they train hard and play harder. As their body will be more physically worn down, their increased fatigue can make them more likely to become injured.

To have a shot at becoming a standout athlete, your young athlete needs to be healthy. And not just healthy, but optimal. Injury prevention needs to be a top priority.

Even if they think you are just being a nagging parent, they will thank you later for checking in on them! Remind your athlete regularly to:

  • Take their rest days seriously
  • Sleep! Get as much rest as possible (not stay up all night playing video games or other activities)
  • Eat healthy and on a consistent basis. This includes drinking plenty of fluids (water!!!)
  • Seek help right away when something starts hurting

3. Remembering the why

The higher the sport level gets, the more the fun can be sucked out of it. When times get tough, remind your athlete to focus on what made them fall in love with their sport in the first place. It will almost always go back to fun. No one starts playing sports because of money or fame. Help them to recall the best times they have ever had in their sport, and to remember them when times get tough.

The transition isn’t going to be easy. But every single day, your athlete has the power to control their:

  • Thoughts
  • Decisions
  • Attitude
  • Effort

By focusing on these tips, you will be able to help your athlete transition into their new team more smoothly and stress-free.

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Lora Scott, MD

division chief sports medicine
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