Practice, Not Perfection

Soon it will be time for young athletes to hit the field, court, or track. Making sure they’ve packed the proper equipment is simple; making sure they have the right attitude — and balance — might not be in the bag. If youngsters don’t equalize their competitive desire to win with other elements of the game, they could be setting themselves up for failure.

Watch for these signs that kids might be feeling too much pressure:

Ignoring positive achievements and obsessively dwelling on missed plays or other perceived mistakes

Practicing for long hours beyond coach requirements, especially at the expense of sleep, studying, and family or social activities

Self-imposed dietary restrictions, excessive exercise, and focus on body fat or appearance (for sports like wrestling that feature weight classes, talk to coaches to be sure goals are met in healthy ways and avoid creating extreme body image issues, which can have long-term harmful effects).

Sports can be great for fostering commitment, teamwork, and discipline. But balance is essential; as young people pursue their goals, they may need guidance to achieve it.

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