Your kid is a gifted athlete. Really gifted. As in, gifted enough to compete at the collegiate level, and maybe even to go pro.
You’re not doubt proud of all that your student athlete has accomplished to date. But you know full well that the last chapter in his or her playing career hasn’t yet been written. At the same time, you’re worried about striking the right balance between his or her academic obligations and athletic aspirations.
The bill for failure to meet the former will come due once your kid’s playing days are over, or perhaps sooner; the latter, meanwhile, is essential to his or her personal fulfillment (and, perhaps, career track) in the near term.
So, what can a parent like you do to ensure that your student athlete remains on track to excel on the playing field and in the classroom. You’ll want to at least consider these six items.
1. Set a Good Example for Their Post-Playing Career
At some point, your student athlete’s playing career will end. It’s up to you to show them that there’s life after sports. New York entrepreneur Ryan Nivakoff credits his father, a long-serving police chief, with inspiring his post-graduation stint as a police officer. You can surely find a similar example to set.
2. Be Quick to Hire Extra Academic Help
When in doubt, hire a tutor. The more time your kid spends on the practice field, the less he or she has for homework and study. An hour or two of extra help in key subjects each week can make the difference between a frustrating slog to graduation and a smooth, rewarding scholastic career.
3. Encourage Healthy Food Choices, Even When You’re Not Preparing Their Meals
No one’s asking you to prepare every single meal for your kids. They’ll surely eat school-made meals and raid the pantry at home from time to time. But you do want to set your kids up for success by encouraging them to eat healthy. You’ll also want to make sure they get enough nutrition — and proper balance — for their athletic endeavors.
4. Offer Non-Athletic Extracurricular Opportunities
Your kid’s days don’t have to be filled with a dreary, repetitive combination of work and play. Give them every opportunity to enjoy non-athletic extracurriculars, too. Breaking up their days could stave off burnout, too.
5. Help Them Through the University Recruiting and Application Processes
Last, but not least, be their collegiate sherpa during junior and senior year of high school. Choosing and applying to colleges is hard work, and all the more so when you’re being feted by athletic programs. You can do much to keep your kid’s head on straight and encourage sober decision-making.
Meet Those Milestones — All of Them
Your student athlete has a lot of milestones to meet, and it’s up to you to keep them on track to hit them.
It’s also on you not to freak out when your kid doesn’t consistently blow his or her competitors out of the water. Special as they are, your child is human — just like everyone else’s kids. If you determine at some point down the line that your kid’s efforts at one sport or another aren’t paying off as they used to, you’re well within your rights to gently encourage him or her to look elsewhere.
Whether he or she takes you up on that offer is another matter entirely.