Schools out for summer! Now what for our young athletes?
As another school year winds down for kids all around the country, parents like me and you now have the task of planning out summer for our kids. This has to be a balance between time we want to spend with them, the activities they want to do and how much flexibility we actually have as we try to balance family life, summer activities and a real job.
For parents of young athletes, the task can get even harder. Inevitably, you are not looking at just putting your kids in a local camp close by your home. It often involves travel, more than a dash of money, and a smorgasbord of choices for a parent to weed thru to come up with the best scenario for their kids.
Below I have put together a list of helpful hints that might aid us parents in planning for our junior athletes this summer:
Let age be a guiding force: I am not a fan of early specialization for kids, but some sports like gymnastics, snowboarding, free ride skiing, surfing, skateboarding you tend to see kids specialize a little earlier due to the reliance on acrobatic skills. Still, I would say even for those sports a kid does not need to be narrowing their focus to one sport and activity before the age of 11. But kids do sports because they LOVE it, and any passion should be supported and celebrated. I don’t see anything wrong with an athlete under the age of 11 doing a camp or two for their chosen sport. It builds skills and allows them to get added mileage, which is key at young ages. Make sure that the key to the camp is fun and progression only! Over 11 years of age, I think its quite reasonable that the focus will narrow on skills designed for competitive success, just keep it realistic and still make fun the key!
Variety is the spice of life: The great news for us parents is that there are SO many offerings for our kids, and so every activity they do does not have to be based on one sport. It can be a mixture that will keep our kids engaged and having fun, build athleticism and fitness, and still aid in building skills for our kids chosen sports.
Let’s take a junior snowboarder for example. A kid does not necessarily need to do 3 or 4 camps every summer to keep progressing. 1 to 2 directed camps would be fine with the focus on progression. This could be combined with a surf camp, skateboarding and some wakeboarding. All different sports, all different canvases to create on, but all building great skills in our young shredder.
This example can be related to a myriad of sports.
Watch the burn out: Kids don’t need to be on the grind 24/7 during summer. They need some down time…...some time to just chill around the house and enjoy life. I have seen the effects with my own children where they are scheduled out the wazoo. Leads to stress, burn out and a lack of enthusiasm. I give my guys a choice of a couple of camps, we have a couple of trips and then they get to hang with friends and be close to the home base. The good news is they stay active on their own accord, it keeps them creative and helps their stoke level.
Keep that smile on their dial: No-one knows your kid better than you! As parents, our kid’s happiness is the number one key. So keep your grommet smiling, having fun and exploring life. They don’t need to be the new Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn, Kelly Clarke, Peyton Manning or Ronaldo. Just keep them happy and stoked on participating in sports. Success will grow from that stoke!
Get out there with them: There is a tendency with youth athletes to treat them as mini adults. We forget they are still kids that want to spend quality time with their parents and families. Sp parents, get out there and have a go with them. Have your kids give you a lesson, get stoked and share their passion. It will go a long way to developing a great relationship with your athlete, and might even develop another activity for yourself. Sometimes a parent’s place does not always have to be on the sideline!
Hope these few hints help with your summer planning. I know I am stoked to surf with my kids, skate with my son and enjoy the warmth.
Have a great summer folks, and enjoy that time with your kids!