Teenage girl playing softball

Jun 19, 2015 / Sports Medicine

What Turns a Young Athlete Into a Lifelong Athlete? – Sports Medicine

Various specialties have studied the characteristics that make a young athlete stick with his or her sport. From a psychological perspective, those who think sports are fun are more likely to continue to participate in sports and later lead a healthier lifestyle that includes physical activity.

Around 12 or 13 years old, athletes progress to a more competitive sport environment and the pressures really start to grow. Winning, or being the best, becomes more important as elite team tryouts and college scholarship dreams come into play.

According to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children Psychology Fellow and Sport Psychologist, Dr. Erica Force, this is the window of time where athletes begin to drop out of sports completely. “To keep our kids participating in physical activity for the long term, it’s important for parents to foster a positive and fun environment. Parents can do that by asking questions that focus on effort and hard work rather than only asking questions about results of the competition.”

Here are some ideas to help shift the conversation from negative to positive:

  • Be a good listener and offer encouragement regardless of the outcome of a game
  • Keep your own emotions under control
  • Ask about their experience while playing:
    • Did you put forth your best effort?
    • Did you have fun?
    • Did you help your team?
    • Were you a good sport?

For information about Scottish Rite Hospital’s Sports Medicine Center, please visit our Sports Medicine page. For information on Scottish Rite Hospital’s Psychology Department, please visit our Other Treatment page.

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