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August 20, 2001
Guidance for those lost in sports
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August 20, 2001

Ask The Coach

Guidance for those lost in sports

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Dear Coach: My 12-year-old son broke his leg sliding into home plate. After spending 10 weeks in a cast, he was cleared to play by his doctor, but now he's tentative on the field, especially about sliding again. How can I assuage his fears?

Dear Injured: After an injury, physical healing is only part of the recovery process. An athlete also has to recuperate psychologically. Talk to your son about his fear of getting hurt, and make sure he realizes his anxiety is normal. "Reassure him that healing has already taken place," says Kenneth Baum, author of "The Mental Edge: Maximize Your Sports Potential with the Mind-Body Connection. Baum also recommends practicing visualization exercises. "Have him imagine sliding perfectly," says Baum, "and have him say, 'I slide perfectly with great technique.' " The more he can see himself doing the action in his head, the easier it will be to perform on the field.

Dear Coach: My 14-year-old son is a good pitcher, but he wants to quit the game to take up bowling. Although I don't have anything against bowling, let's face it, it's not baseball. How can I persuade him to stick with a real sport?

Dear Diamond: Better let him do what he wants. "It's important for parents to introduce their child to a sport and to be excited about it, but the child should be doing it because he chooses to," says Joel Fish, director of the Center for Sport Psychology, in Philadelphia. "The motivation for playing has to come from him. Using guilt to get your child to play the sport you prefer doesn't work."