Elite sports begin young, and select those few who will be the superstars of the next generation early on. Whether you desire this intense experience for your child, or simply want them to be active, have fun and learn a new skill – summer is a great time to get it done.
Competitive sports can be, well, competitive – even during elementary school. While everyone should try to be a good sport on game days, coveted positions on teams can cause jealously and fierceness to flare up. And then outside of the parents, the kids will feel the pressure too!
In today’s world of young athletes, it can be difficult for school-aged children to try out for a team when they have zero experience in the sport. A summer camp or intensive can help resolve this issue, providing the child with one of two things:
– For the beginner: a basic, non-competitive environment in which to learn
– For the seasoned athlete: a chance to enrich skills during freed up hours during summer
No matter which goal your family has in mind, taking advantage of longer days and less commitments over the summer is vital to improving one’s game.
Finding a True Love
Perhaps your child is young or new to sports and aren’t sure which one to plug into. Since every recreational activity that involves being part of a team tends to be both expensive and time-consuming, summer is the best time of year to “try things out” and see what really excites your child. You may have always envisioned her as a soccer star, but then discover that she is a tennis pro. Summer vacation is a wonderful time to just explore and play. Many summer intensives for sports (including dance and gymnastics) invite those new to the arena a chance to sample a handful of different things. An intensive sports camp may include a week of softball, football, tennis, volleyball and soccer – or any other combination of sports. Basic rules are taught, mock games are played, and information about what to do next if you’ve caught the bug for one in particular are usually included. For dance, a smattering of different dance disciplines are taught, and may include ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary or hip hop. Gymnastics intensives for new athletes may choose to focus on all events within competitive gymnastics, or instead just work on strength-building, basic tricks and safety protocol.
Encouraging an Elitist
If your child is going to become a sports elitist, taking the summer off is not an option. Elite sports demands a generous amount of commitment from both the athlete and his/her family, and summer is a time spent ramping up training, endurance levels and honing new skills. If the competition season prior ended up being a bit rough in some regard, then those skills which caused the fumbles will often be worked on intensively.
Summer is time for the elitist to spend the hours he/she would normally be in school working with a private coach or taking extra classes. The goal of an advanced athlete is to use summer camps and intensives toward improving significantly in their sport of choice, or at least maintaining the level they are at. These months are often the only time of year where you can get an “edge” on your fiercest competition, as there are fewer distractions in life.
Finding Your Heart
Parents tend to have big dreams for their youngsters, and kids really do need us to dream big for them. However, every parent must be careful they aren’t dreaming beyond what a child is capable of, or not forcing their own slighted ambitions onto a little one. Explain the importance of summer intensives to your child, but if they don’t want to be an elitist in their sport, or just really need a summer off to avoid burnout, it’s important to honor that whenever possible.
Whatever your activity decision-making may be, the heart of it should always be your child’s dreams and passions. Take a good hard look in your family mirror – is the sacrifice something that is worth it? Does your child’s elite sport make his/her life enhanced? Is this something that is child-driven rather than parent or coach-driven? If so, take advantage of one of the great intensive camps available in your region. You can find out about them through your child’s regular trainer or coach, or simply look online. Discounts and scholarships are often available to ambitious young athletes hoping for high-quality summer enrichment without an overwhelming price tag.