Dear Coach: My son plays sixth-grade football and seems to lack heart. He is always the last one to the play. I've told him I don't expect him to be a superstar, but I do expect 100% effort. He says he likes football, and any mention of quitting upsets him. Should I accept it or ride him harder?
Dear Lazy: Since he's enjoying himself, your son isn't in it for the stats. Says Ronald Kamm, VP of the International Society for Sport Psychiatry, "He's getting something else from it. Maybe it's the camaraderie, or the status of being on the team. In any case, take the pressure off." Also, let his coach do the talking. When his attitude is broached as a team matter, it's more likely to make an impact. "If he comes to you, tell him aggressiveness is a big part of the game," says Kamm. "But you have to let him perceive that for himself."
Dear Coach: I'm a 15-year-old girl who loves basketball, but I'm only 5'7" and I was cut from my high school's freshman team. I don't have great ability, but if I don't make the jayvee next year, I'll feel like all the hours I put in practicing will have been for nothing. What can I do?
GOT NO GAME
Dear Game: Be persistent, but be realistic. "Concentrate on skill development," says child psychologist Darrell Burnett. "Focus on passing and dribbling. And if you don't make the team, it's not the end of the world. Play recreationally and see the beauty of the sport." There's no shame in missing the cut. Says Kamm, "Applaud the journey, not the destination. Your commitment already says a lot about your character."
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