Gregory T. Penny, M.D.
Some sports like football, cross country, volleyball and cheerleading are already underway for the school year, so it’s time to start preparing your child for winter and spring sports such as basketball, soccer, track and swimming.
If your child is not already involved in a fitness activity, now is the time to start. Getting in good physical condition will have a huge impact on your endurance. Talk to your child about which sport he or she would like to try and stress practice, practice, practice. Having a jump start on any activity will make him or her more confident during tryouts.
Most school or private club tryouts are organized by several coaches who are evaluating the skill level of each child. Talk with other parents or have your child talk with peers who have been on the team before or who have tried out for the sport, so you know what to expect. Have your child dress appropriately for the sport or activity and get them ready to work. Coaches may want to see your child’s skills in a variety of positions which means your child will be running (literally) for the duration of the tryout.
Parents can help by encouraging their child to do his or her best, talking about the tryouts and by leaving inspirational messages around the house. Make nutritious meals and snacks that contain both carbohydrates and proteins to help your child maintain energy and rebuild muscles. And, make time for your child to relax—whether it’s listening to music, taking a bath or reading a book in a quiet room. Tryouts can be stressful so unwinding from the day can be just as important as having a good breakfast.
Not everyone can make the team. If your child does not, he or she may join friends as a spectator. Often there is another sport to pursue. Keep in mind individualized sports like swimming, wrestling and tennis that are just as active and may be a better fit for your child. Another good resource for parents is the YMCA, after-school intramurals and other youth sport organizations where children can take part in individual or group noncompetitive sports. The goal is to involve your child in some type of physical activity—competitive or noncompetitive—for at least 1 hour every day.