Dear Coach: I'm a high school senior who's been buried on losing baseball teams my whole career. I want to win a title. Do I stick with my friends and hope for a miracle, or do I transfer across town and win now?
Dear Jumping: If you go, there could be trouble. "Leaving would mean telling your friends that they're not good enough, and you're going to lose those friends," says Marty Ewing, a sports psychologist at Michigan State's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports. "You have to weigh the relationships you've established against playing with strangers for a year." Pulling a Roger Clemens can be the right move, but be certain the ring is truly the thing.
Dear Coach: I'm a 42-year-old ex-athlete trying to get back in shape. At first I tried using a StairMaster and lifting weights, but my weight loss was minimal, and my bones constantly hurt. I switched to running, and in two months I lost 30 pounds, but the pain—this time in my Achilles tendons—was excruciating. Help!
FEELING THE BURN
Dear Feeling: You're suffering from what Nicholas DiNubile, the 76ers' orthopedic consultant, has dubbed "boomeritis," the tendency of fortysomethings to overtax their bodies by treating them the same way they did when they were in their 20s. Physiological changes—like decreased tendon elasticity, which may be contributing to your Achilles pain—make it unwise to exercise as if you were still a jock. "Your original program was better," says DiNubile. "But the deep bum after lifting tells me you're overloading—too much weight, not enough reps." DiNubile suggests a diversified program: moderate weight training combined with low-impact aerobics (like walking). Says DiNubile, "As your body adjusts, you may find you can do some of the things you used to."