I recently heard about an amazing accomplishment that I couldn’t believe. A youth athlete accomplished something I’ve been wanting to do for some time, but have yet to even attempt it yet.
Competing with and beating the “big boys”
Anthony Russo, a 5-year-old from New Jersey, completed a half-marathon this past weekend. But not only did he complete it, he broke a national record with a time of 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 25 seconds, which easily beats many adults.
As a former college athlete who used to hate running, I am beyond impressed. My goal for the past few years has been to complete a half-marathon, but “somehow” each year I’ve missed the registration period.
For the love of the game
I think one of the reasons is I enjoy running, but I don’t love it. That is one primary difference between me and Anthony. Anthony loves to run. And although he is so young, his parents have allowed him to pursue this love of running. He trains five days per week with his mom, and hopes to compete in more half-marathons. Some parents and even doctors say this level of running may pose some risks. His parents say they’ve never pushed him, but just allowed him to keep going until he was ready to run the half. They’ve just allowed him to do what he loves, and provided what he needs to do so.
Finding their thing
I have kids ages 4 to 13 who are all involved in more than one sport as well as various other activities. I’m not sure anyone of them has truly identified one thing they love more than anything else. It made me think about what happens when your kid loves a sport. Here is a list I put together.
5 things that might mean your kids love a sport.
- They train without you or anyone else prompting them. Some kids play their sport when someone else is playing only. But other kids will train, practice, and play their sport without the need of someone telling them. They will learn drills, new moves, and work themselves out because they love it and it is fun working to get better.
- They play this sport in-season and off-season. Some kids play multiple sports, while others just play one. When your kid loves a sport they will plays this particular sport all year round even when they participate in other sports.
- They wake up early to play or practice. I remember hating early morning preseason training when I was in high school. I was not an early morning person at all, but I got up when because I knew it would make me better and give me the best opportunity to play the sport I loved. When your kids wake up early to practice their, without you making, then you know they love their sport.
- They eat, drink, sleep, etc their sport. Do your kids sleep with their ball, eat with their ball (if you allow them), take their ball with them when they will be nowhere near a court or field. Do they use the bathroom with their ball?? Then you can bet they love their sport.
- They borderline get in trouble from playing the sport. I can remember playing basketball or baseball way past the time I was suppose to come home. I could never get enough. I always wanted one more game, one more shot, one more hit, or one more of anything that involved the game. Honestly, sometimes I was just so wrapped up that I lost track of everything else. When this happens, be easy because your kid might just love their sport.
What do you do when your kids love a sport
Now you’ve found yourself as the parent of a kid who loves a sport. So, what do you do? It can be challenging. If you played, and loved the sport, you may want to push too hard. If sports wasn’t your thing, then you may not do anything. Here are 5 things for your to do when your kids love a sport.
- Enjoy it with them. This could be in the form of their coach, #1 fan, or just watching the sport with them. Find a level of involvement you are both comfortable with and enjoy it.
- Support them. Maybe you can’t be at every practice, game, and tournament, but you can support them by making it possible for them to be. Do your best to make so they can be there.
- Find a good coach. Unless you were a professional or high-level athlete at some point they may outgrow your expertise. Or maybe not want your expertise at all. This is where a good coach can help them continue to grow.
- Allow them freedom. As parents we have the tendency to see our kids excel at something and them make it our mission to make it happen for them. Allow them the freedom to go at their pace. Don’t put your expectations or unfulfilled dreams on them. They will have their own dreams and goals. Be there as support.
- Don’t allow it to become an idol. Sports are fun, and they are great! But your kids still have school, household chores, a social life, and other activities. Make sure their priorities are in order. Maybe one day it can become their profession and a top priority, but right now your job is to help them in this area.
What has your experience been with kids who love a sport? Jackie Bledsoe, Jr. is a sports parent of three, and writes about sports parenting. He has played sports for over 30 years, including the collegiate level, and coached youth sports for the past eight years. photo credit: Eneas via photopin cc