Dear Coach: I've coached youth sports for more than 30 years, but
I've never found the right way to tell a parent that his child
isn't the next Kobe Bryant or Randy Moss. What's a diplomatic way
to wise parents up?
THE COLD TRUTH
Dear Truth: This news can hit parents hard. Says Darrell Burnett,
a child psychologist and youth league coach in Laguna Niguel,
Calif., "For a parent who's dedicated hours and dollars to his
child, it's seen as the loss of an investment." Remind parents of
how slim the chances are that their child will become a pro and
stress that physical development is what's key. "If they realize
their kids are working for skills instead of prizes," says
Burnett, "that will help them get realistic and not relate to
their kids only as athletes."
Dear Coach: I'm a 14-year-old boy, and I'm wondering if it's all
right to lift weights. Several people have told me it's fine, but
my doctor says I have a few years of growing left to do.
Dear Weight: The caveat that lifting will stunt your growth is
"an old myth," says Avery Faigenbaum, professor of exercise
physiology at UMass-Boston. As long as you learn proper
technique, strength training won't stress your developing body.
However, be aware that during rapid growth spurts your body is at
an increased risk for injuries in general. Pay attention to
unusual aches or soreness in and around your joints, which could
hint that you're hefting too much weight. Otherwise, train right
and "not only will your sports performance go up," says
Faigenbaum, "but your resistance to injury will increase."
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