Check out these 3 ways you can help young athletes balance basketball and school!
Time may be the most important piece that parents, players, and coaches need to manage. As with anything in life, when time isn't managed correctly, decisions on priorities become blurry.
Most parents that have kids understand the importance of academics above all else. When parents have a child that is a good athlete, this can sometimes blur the line. This isn't necessarily because the parent believes sports are more of a priority, but balancing their time can be extremely difficult without a clear plan. High school, college, and professional athletes are given so much praise and fame that it's easy to fall into that fantasy for their kid.
Actionable Steps: Always make sure that school comes first. If the athlete truly understands this, they will work hard to make more time for basketball. Players must also fully understand academic requirements for getting into college and achieving goals after school as well. Lastly, set up a plan for athletes to follow. One example may be to schedule study hall times for your players to be successful at school. This will give them an opportunity to be with their friends but also the chance to learn and get work done at the same time.
Another important thought to keep in mind when balancing school and basketball is expectations. Some kids believe that they have to be perfect in both and this literally can make them sick. Stress from school, basketball, and other sources is an easy way to derail an athlete.
Young kids have a tough time balancing out expectations given from parents and coaches. Most players have a tough time expressing these problems and addressing the added stress from a parent, friend, or coach. It's on the coach and parents to make sure their player continues to understand that they don't have to be perfect, but should try to do their best in everything.
Actionable steps: This starts and ends with clear communication. Most players are extremely competitive and genuinely want to be the best. Positive reinforcement and helping them understand it's not the end of the world if they have a bad game is essential to building their confidence while managing expectations. Prioritizing school work and health can help the player navigate through their decision making process throughout life. Basketball and the attention that comes with it can derail a player's progress in other aspects of life. Set the standard and help them get there. Then set it higher and repeat. This is a great way to positively motivate a kid on and off the court.
As I've touched on already in this article, adult involvement is extremely important in regards to balancing school and basketball. As a parent or coach, whether you believe it or not, most kids want to do everything in their power to make you proud. Many times they just need a lending hand to guide them in the right direction. Whether you're a parent or coach, mentorship is invaluable regardless if the title of "mentor" is explicit or not.
Once again, mentorship starts and ends with clear communication but also with genuine care. For players, we encourage them to seek out mentors in their life that can help them. For coaches and parents, we encourage you to be proactive in offering your support. Understanding that student athletes have a lot on their plate is essential to sympathizing and ultimately helping them balancing everything in their life.
Actionable steps: When a player does something that draws positive attention, it is something they will want to continue to do. The approval of prominent figures in a kid's life can make or break their future. Be sure to take notice and applaud excellence in school and in basketball. It may be easier to get excited about a dunk or an amazing play on the basketball court then it is to see you kid got an "A" or "B" on their test. Get excited about success in every aspect of your players' lives and their priorities will balance out and they will be on their way to a successful high school career!