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Competing in Sports at the High School Level

So, we want our kids to be able to balance school and sports. At least I think that’s the right thing to do. No doubt, there are major benefits to our teens competing in high school sports teams. We all know the reasons why. We want our children to have that healthy balance, and to strive not only in academics, but to thrive in other areas of their life as well, like the extracurricular activities, volunteering and philanthropic work, and maintaining a well-adjusted social life. The goal, however, can become extremely overwhelming for our kids, especially when they’re overdoing it emotionally and physically. We start to wonder as parents, how can we get our children to challenge themselves and feel confident without putting them in a position where their physical and emotional well being are at stake?

I personally feel that putting a child in any type of sport, and this includes dance as a sport too, that these activities foster an amazing balance and healthy outlet between the physical activity and their mental well being. I always used to worry that if my daughters competed in dance competition, that they would lose that passion for dance and actual love for the art of dance itself. Or with any sport, when reaching the high school level, there’s also an increased level of different pressures and anxiety. Pressures of the coaches, pressures to not want to let down your team and self-induced pressures that kids put on themselves. Never mind the pressures to ultimately win, but then there’s the increased pressures due to the actual physical demands at the high school level, and what their bodies can endure. With coaches wanting kids to lose more weight or gain more, or work out more to gain strength, it’s hard to fathom the levels of anxiety that kids sustain also knowing the high school workload, course intensity, academic demands and college prep.

I’m reading so much about high school sports and the excessive injuries that occur due to overuse and extreme physical exertion. Where’s the happy medium? Where do we draw the line between providing our teens with the opportunities and benefits, and the drastic measures that come from the pitfalls of high school burnout and athletic physical dangers? We all want the best for our kids, having them be well-rounded students who will ultimately reap the benefits of playing the high school sport of their choice while also nurturing their emotional well being. I believe the real focus should be on keeping an open line of communication with our kids, and seeing the red flags, if any, when they reach that unsafe territory at the high school level.

Compete, or not to compete? That is MY question.

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