Dear Coach: My 12-year-old son enjoyed baseball until he saw a teammate get hit by a pitch last year. He's been unwilling to play ever since. How can I coax him back into the box?
FEAR OF BATTING
Dear Batting: "You must provide him with a safe experience in which he has success," says Elliot Johnson, professor of physical education and sport science at Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, III. Start by putting your son in a low-risk environment—like a batting cage—and see how he responds. Once you've made some progress, you'll both be in a better position to decide if he wants to continue playing baseball. If he doesn't, he may simply have outgrown the game. "He's old enough to recover from the incident, so if he still doesn't want to play, it'll be because he's not interested," says Johnson.
Dear Coach: I'm a high school sophomore hoping to play football, but my parents want me to quit because they're afraid I'll get injured. How can I change their minds?
Dear Worry: "Let your parents know the potential for injury exists in all sports, whether it be football or gymnastics," says Jack Hutslar, founder of the North American Youth Sport Institute. Then let them know you've given serious thought to preventing injuries. Says Hutslar, "Tell them you plan to participate in conditioning programs." By outlining your team's exercise regimen and by explaining that you're focusing on skill development—thereby decreasing your injury risk—you'll show you've heard their concerns and are working to address them.