Middle school is an important time for youth athletes. It’s when the foundation and development of skills and understanding begin to take shape. It is also at this time that key questions and decisions should be made. Is your child playing sport as a recreational activity? Is you child playing sport to inprove to make the high school team? Does your child want to play in college? Is your child playing sport because of mom and dad?
Ask your child if they want to play sport in college?
If a child wants to play sport in college. Parents should examine the High Schools in the local district. Do your homework on the program and coach. This means, find out how many players from the school have moved on to play college sports. How many of those players played for the current coach? Does the coach have connections or a network on the college level? Does the school have a quality strength and conditioning program? What does the summer development program consist of? Attend a game or practice if necessary. All of the above activities will allow you to get a feel for what type of program and coach a child will become a part of.
Review the policy and rules regarding attending the districts other schools.
School districts have a policy in place regarding boundaries in a school district (if public) area. You should familiarize yourself with these policies. Understand the reason certain districts allow kids from other boundaries to attend schools in that district. Most school boundaries are in place for equal enrollment purposes, not athletic purposes.
Take time to review the academic advising or counseling department.
Speak to some of the counselors and find out if they have experience with the NCAA academic requirements and understand what classes athletes should be taking. Also, find out if they understand the difference between NCAA divisions 1,2 and 3.
Find out what type of kids your son/daughter will be joining.
If a player is good enough to compete on varsity as a freshman parents should understand that player will be around older kids every day and this could expose a player to the ills of playing sports. A freshman hanging around a senior is not always a bad thing but from a social standpoint, attending parties and being exposed to alcohol and drugs could be.
Ask yourself if you want your child to play in high school more than your child?
Sometimes as parents we want our child to be so successful that we forget it’s not about us it’s about the child. If your child doesn’t want to play high school sports leave it and find another activity for them to enjoy. Pushing your child to play sport will only damage your relationship.
Playing a sport on the collegiate level is difficult, and not many have the opportunity. Many parents leave the investigative legwork to others. While some parents are not educated on the things that will provide their child with the necessary developmental aspects of playing in college. If a child is willing to put in the effort, a parent need to make sure they are doing their part.
Dr. Mark Robinson is a personal development expert who helps highly competitive individuals excel in a highly competitive environment.