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."