My son is entering high school next year. He was a starter on his 8th grade team, but the HS players seem so much larger and faster than him. I’m worried that freshman year will find him on the bench. How should I prepare him this summer?
– High School High Anxiety
High school sports mark a big shift in intensity and competition. The stakes are greater, the audiences larger, and the competition tougher. Additionally, many teams will have 18-year-old starters practicing next to 14-year-old freshman. For many young athletes, this can be both intimidating and inspiring. So what should your athlete do? Prepare.
Unfortunately, the lure of summer is to “take summer off”; letting valuable time go to waste while the competition is improving. Yet the opposite can also be dangerous; competing all summer can lead to burnout and overtraining. A good middle ground is to treat summer as offseason – preparing for a sport without playing competitively. There are many ways to train in the offseason, but they all follow a basic pattern: get stable, get strong, get smart.
Finally, it’s natural for many entering freshman to be intimidated by the high school team, and natural for parents to want to shelter them from disappointments like getting benched. Yet good parenting is not protecting them from disappointment, its preparing them for challenges. If you help your athlete think about the summer as their offseason, they will enter high school prepared.
– Coach Grant