4 Important Questions for Sports Families this Summer
With summer sports just around the corner it’s time for parents to sit down with their young athletes and begin mapping out the summer sports schedule. Some of the more common questions include what sport(s) to play, what competition level to experience, and how much time and commitment sports will take up? It behooves parents to explore these questions as the difference in getting it right versus wrong is often the difference between incredible life/growth experiences versus sports burnout, frustration, and missed opportunities.
4 big questions to answer
While there are many important questions to examine when preparing for summer sports, I have found that the following 4 questions may be the most important as they apply to summer sports:
- How many sports to play? These days, it’s not uncommon for kids to play 2 and sometimes 3 different sports at the same time. Before signing up to multiple sports in the same season, be sure to know exactly what you are signing up for, as well as the implications of not being 100% committed to each team.
- How to balance sports with other family interests/activities? A summer travel league experience can quickly eat up most, if not all of your family free time. With weekend tournaments becoming commonplace, it leaves little time left over for family vacations and other fun experiences.
- How to balance sports with other life experiences for your child? If your child is booked solid with sport obligations, what non-sport experiences will he or she miss as a result? Are there other academic, social, art, or music events that will be impossible to do because your child’s sport schedule is so intense?
- Time and money costs? Experiencing a busy summer sports schedule usually results in challenging time and money costs that parents don’t always recognize right away. If you are budgeting be sure to take in to account gas, hotels, food, and equipment costs, as well as lost time as a result of traveling to different cities and watching games from the stands.
Preparation is the key
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to how many sports your child should play, the level of competition, or the miles he or she will travel to play against different competition. From my experience the biggest variable linked to the level of success a sports family will experience has to do with one thing: Preparation. Families who take the time before summer to examine all the various commitments, costs, and obligations relating to summer sports are the ones who generally make the healthiest and best decisions, and their overall experiences are successful as a result. Conversely, families who rush into summer sports without thinking through the questions presented here run a much greater risk for over-committing to activities, struggles to live up to responsibilities and expectations, and experiencing sports burnout.
Yes, these are different times than when you were a kid involved in youth sports, and summer can present the biggest challenges with so many opportunities available to kids today. Make sure to learn as much as you can about the sports available to you this summer, and then sit down with your kids to go over the pros and cons. Like the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and this is especially true when it comes to setting up a summer sports schedule.