How Hard Should You Push Your Kids?

Tauna & Kirsten
In Ask Our Experts
By Tauna & Kirsten | July 25, 2018
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My son started high school workouts and they are extremely difficult. Each practice is four hours long and more intense than anything he’s experienced in his sport so far. He is asking to skip tomorrow’s workout because he is soo sore. Should I let him?

-- Concerned parent
Profile picture of Tauna Vandeweghe.

Raising Kids to Compete and Win

No, No, No! Muscle soreness, bumps and bruises are a part of any game. This is a perfect opportunity to help him understand the responsibilities he has to himself to push through the pain and fatigue and the commitment he has to his teammates. Once he is committed to being part of a team, he has to know that he has a responsibility to be the best he can be and that the team depends on him to fulfill his role, whether it’s being a sub or a star. It’s also a chance for him to learn how to push himself even when things are not perfect. If he doesn’t push through, and challenge himself it can affect his whole outlook on his commitment to the sport and most importantly his confidence. If you take the playing field knowing you have put in the work and have pushed through the hard practices it gives you the confidence to know that you are ready to play. But if you allow him to take days off, he will feel he’s not committed and will doubt himself in game situations. It is just like taking a test; if you study you feel prepared. Every day he misses is a day he gets behind; because I guarantee the others players are out there working hard even through the aches and pains of getting in shape. Explain to him the advantages of working through the soreness. How it will make him stronger, faster and more confident. If you let him “take a day off” it just teaches him to quit. And if he quits one thing it is so much easier to quit when he is faced with the next challenge.

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Peak Performance Coach

The intensity level from middle school to high school most definitely goes up a notch (or two!) and it takes kids some time to adjust to the change of the pace of play and to the rigor and requirements to participate. While it’s tough to see our children tired and run a bit ragged, we need to believe that they can handle the adjustment to the next level or the coaches wouldn’t have put them on the team. Before making any decisions, I would ask him a few questions to find out more about his mindset: 1) What are his biggest concerns are about tomorrow’s workout? Why? 2) What would happen if he doesn’t go to the workout? 3) What can he do to take care of himself today that might make him feel better in time for the workout tomorrow? 4) Is he so sore he’s willing to go in and speak to the coach/trainer tomorrow about sitting out of practice? Being sore isn’t be a reason to skip practice, unless there is a concern for injury. If he feels like his soreness could lead to injury then encouraging him to address it with the coach/trainer directly is a great place to start.

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