November 2020 Archives

Helping Young Athletes Plan for Life After Competitive Sports

Sponsored Post. Written by IMG Academy.

While the numbers are much higher for student-athletes who attend IMG Academy's elite boarding school, only about 7% of United States high school students who play sports go on to play a varsity sport in college, and less than 2% go on to play at NCAA Division I schools, according to 2016-2017 school year data from the High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations. As parents, we want to see our children succeed and achieve their dreams, but it is also important to be realistic and ensure our children are well rounded and prepared for careers that may not involve professional sports. Here are some ways you can do just that:

Encourage them to be a leader: Whether it's being the captain or co-captain of their sports team, taking on a leadership role in a club at school, joining student government, or being a leader in an organization outside of school, kids who have experience as leaders learn initiative, confidence, and organizational skills that transfer directly to college and later on to their jobs once they enter the workforce. Help your child explore the various ways in which they can take on leadership roles, and encourage them to pursue these opportunities. Even if they don't always achieve those roles, the process of campaigning for them will instill lifelong characteristics and skills that are also beneficial. They can even tie their leadership experience into their sport by coaching a team of athletes in a younger age group.

Encourage them to volunteer: While a lot of high schools have volunteer hours as a part of their graduation requirements, and many colleges require them for admission, you should encourage your child to do more than just the minimum amount of volunteering. If you are an active volunteer in your community, bring your child along when they are young so that they develop an appreciation for helping. By volunteering in their community, your child will meet people of various ages and from all walks of life. This experience will open their eyes to what the "real world" is really like while giving them the satisfaction of making a difference as well as an opportunity to explore other avenues they may enjoy. Volunteer opportunities are so varied, from manual labor to tutoring or fundraising, so your child will have a variety of experiences while building a very wide skill set.

Encourage them to have varied interests: If your child shows an interest in something outside of their sport, such as music, assembling or construction, technology, or something else, encourage them to explore it. A child who likes to building intricate items out of building blocks could grow up to be an architect; a child who likes to take apart and reassemble machinery could grow up to be an engineer. If you find a club or classes within your community that align with your child's interests, these could help them to explore those interests further and meet peers with similar interests.

Encourage them to get a job: As a parent, you may already want your child to get a job to help with saving for college or to purchase their own luxury items they may be wanting. But, getting a job when they're of age can also help lead them to a future career while also being beneficial when it's time to apply to colleges. 

Start planning for life after sports now: Help your child understand that they most likely will be pursuing a career that is not tied to playing sports after they graduate from college. Even if they do go on to play at a collegiate level, they will still need a game plan once they earn their degree. Erin Reifsteck, an assistant professor in the UNCG Department of Kinesiology, dealt with the dilemma of what to do once she completed her education at Saint Francis while playing field hockey. She used that dilemma to launch a program called Moving On!, which helps college athletes make a healthy adjustment to life after athletics. Reifsteck used a difficult transition to inspire her, setting a great example for student-athletes to follow. Your child can even consider exploring ways in which they can tie the sport they played into their future career, whether it's by pursuing an education in sports health or by becoming a sports journalist. 

Kelli Hinton is an IMG Academy College Counselor and works directly with student-athletes who are seeking to commit to their desired collegiate program. Hinton provided her perspective on planning for life after athletics as it relates to her experience at IMG.

"Life after sports doesn't always mean giving up your love for the game," she said. "Use the skills and life experiences obtained from being a part of this unique population to make yourself stand out when choosing the next step in life."

Student-athletes who attend IMG Academy's elite boarding school don't just receive training in their sport. They also experience a well-rounded education that includes both personal growth and social responsibility. Playing sports as a child creates a fantastic groundwork for a child's adulthood, but it is also important for a child's parents and the other authority figures in their lives to guide them to explore what their life will be like after their sports career ends.

How Do Skills Learned in Sports Translate to the Workplace?

Sponsored Post. Written by IMG Academy.

Playing sports as a child has both immediate and lifelong benefits, but did you know that the skills and habits that your child develops as a young athlete can carry over into their future career? Many successful employees played sports as kids, and the characteristics that they bring to the workplace can partly be attributed to their time as an athlete. Students at our sports school in Florida don't just learn the skills they need to be successful in their careers while they are in the classroom, but they also pick those skills up while playing their respective sports.

They are Team Players
Kids who play team sports learn how to work with others, often while in high-pressure situations. This atmosphere teaches them to be understanding of others, to think about how their actions will affect those around them, and to share responsibilities, victories, and defeats. Once in the workplace, these same individuals will take others' feelings and situations into account, think about the impact of their decisions on their coworkers, and delegate tasks. They also won't take all of the blame or credit when it comes to a failure or a success that involved their entire team.

Adults who played sports as kids are less likely to try to do everything themselves. They will ask for assistance when they need it, and they will also volunteer to pitch in when they see that their coworker might be in need. A workplace team that contains adults who played sports as kids will also be proficient with identifying each other's strengths and weaknesses and will delegate tasks accordingly.

They Communicate Well
Kids who play sports learn communication skills that may even be better than those of adults who didn't play sports. They understand that everyone on their team is working towards the same goal and that effectively communicating with their teammates is the best way to achieve that goal. The same applies in the workplace. Whether it's a specific project or just day-to-day operations, everyone is working towards similar goals or trying to accomplish similar tasks, and communicating with coworkers is the best way to complete those projects or tasks. By communicating well, everyone within a workplace will achieve success and do so with less stress and effort than they would without proper communication.

They Know How to Take Initiative
Kids who play sports learn that they sometimes need to make very fast, assured decisions in order for their team to be successful, and this trait carries over into the workplace as well. Many young adults who enter the workforce lack initiative because they have never been placed in situations where they are empowered to take it, but an adult who played sports as a child is likely to have a different attitude.

They are Self-Disciplined
In both team and individual sports, it is important for athletes to possess self-discipline in order to be successful. This trait could mean waking up early to practice, always putting in 100% effort during practices and competitions, or being mindful of sleep and diet and how they affect performance. This characteristic translates directly into the workplace when employees need to arrive at the office at a certain time, stay on task to complete a project, and take care of their overall health in order to be efficient and effective when they are at work.

They are Empowered Leaders
Kids who play sports develop a healthy understanding of the importance of leadership roles, and many of them take on leadership roles themselves within their teams. Being a leader is empowering and builds confidence - both of which are important in the workplace. An adult who played team sports as a kid will be respectful of those who are leading them, and they will be confident when opportunities arise for them to be a leader themselves. These adults are more likely to feel empowered to step up when they see a need for someone to take the lead, and they are also more likely to be cooperative when one of their coworkers takes initiative on a task.

Championship teams and successful businesses have several key things in common. A clear vision that is communicated from leadership; a commonality in purpose, which produces accountability between teammates and co-workers; and a commitment to consistency in playing their best, producing the best products or providing excellent customer service. It takes everyone in the organization to view their role and the roles of others as essential to the success of the team; from the C.E.O to the J .A .N. I. T. O .R . I know it is cliché', but "teamwork really does make the dream work."

-Charles P. Gooch, Head of Leadership

They are Coachable
An employee who played sports as a kid is more likely to take constructive criticism as a benefit rather than a critique. Adults who didn't experience coaching as children may interpret it as simply criticism. Adults who played sports will be open to their leaders' suggestions on how they can improve their work and what they can do to grow professionally. Coachable employees may even see valuable rewards, such as a promotion, and they may eventually have an opportunity to be leaders in the workplace as well.

The benefits of playing sports as a child are long-lasting, even as those kids grow up and enter the workforce as young adults. At IMG Academy, student-athletes at our sports school in Florida learn the skills they will need to be successful in the workplace both in the classroom and on the field.

Student-athletes who attend IMG Academy's elite boarding school don't just receive training in their sport. They also experience a well-rounded education that includes both personal growth and social responsibility. Playing sports as a child creates a fantastic groundwork for a child's adulthood, but it is also important for a child's parents and the other authority figures in their lives to guide them to explore what their life will be like after their sports career ends.

Raising a Well-Rounded Elite Athlete

Sponsored Post. Written by IMG Academy.

Each parent's vision of what's "best" for their child will most likely differ from family to family. If part of your vision for your child's future includes an athletic career, you may be wondering how to properly nurture that while also ensuring your child has a well-rounded schedule. From enrolling them in sports camps or a youth sports performance program to supporting them when they play for their community or school team, parents of young athletes put in a lot of time, energy, and money to help their child succeed. Here are some tips for parents who want to raise a well-rounded athlete: 

Encourage them to play multiple sports: Before your child knows what sport they want to commit to, it is wise to encourage them to continue playing multiple sports. This will help them to be better all-around athletes because they will learn different skills and movements while gaining experience by playing for different coaches.

Lead by example: Children who have parents that are physically active and have a healthy attitude regarding competition are likely to follow suit. Set an example by exercising regularly, or even make time to play sports with your child. Also, remember that your child is watching you when you are spectating or playing games, so make sure you are demonstrating good sportsmanship and a positive, competitive spirit.

Avoid applying too much pressure: A poll done by the National Alliance for Youth Sports revealed that 70% of American kids stop playing organized sports by the age of 13 because it stops being fun. Avoid applying too much pressure, and make sure their sport (or sports) aren't the only topic of conversation during their downtime.

Emphasize the importance of having fun: It goes without saying that when an activity stops being fun, the desire to continue significantly decreases. Make sure your child is having fun while playing their sport, and they'll be more likely to want to continue playing. Even legendary basketball player Michael Jordan demonstrated the importance of continuing to have fun with his sport. He included a "love-of-the-game" clause in his contracts that said he could play basketball whenever he wanted to. This included exhibition games, scrimmages, or even pickup games.

Let your child take the lead: While some guidance will be needed from you when it comes to researching and signing up for teams, a youth sports performance program, or youth sports camps, it is important to follow your child's lead as far as the sports they choose to pursue and the intensity with which they decide to do so. Pushing instead of supporting often leads to burnout.

Be your child's number-one fan: Support and encouragement are incredibly beneficial in helping your child to be both a successful athlete and overall young adult. Knowing that you're simply at their competitions will do wonders for their confidence, and they will remember how supportive you were for their entire life. Even professional WTA tennis player, Venus Williams, still enjoys having her dad's support, as seen in this photo she recently shared when he came to see her at one of her practices, which she says he never misses.

Help your child with structure: If your child and your family have decided that playing their sport at an elite level is the path they want to take, they should understand how much hard work and commitment will be needed. Balancing training and competition while still dedicating time to school and social activities will require a lot of structure, which you will need to help them with.

"Whenever we have an alumni from college or the professional tours return to the academy to talk with our students, the first advice that they share with current students is regarding time management.", says Scott Davies, Director of Golf Operations at IMG Academy. "Regardless of the level you compete at, your ability to manage your time has a tremendous influence upon your success."

Remember the big picture: Unless your child becomes a professional athlete, they will eventually be joining the "real world." Most Olympic and collegiate athletes will end up entering the workforce, so it is important to teach them that their athletic achievements aren't a complete measure of their self-worth. Encourage your child to value themselves for more than just their athletic abilities, and help them to find other interests outside of their sport so that they will become well-rounded adults as well.

Be realistic about adversity: Setbacks are just part of being an athlete. Dealing with the letdown of a loss, obstacles, such as injuries, or disappointments like not qualifying for a major competition or not being selected for a collegiate sports program are just as much a part of being an athlete as winning games and achieving new personal bests. Approaching adversity realistically will help your child to manage their emotions and bounce back when situations don't go their way.

It may feel like there's a lot of pressure to raise your young athlete the "correct" way, and what's correct can vary from family to family, too. While you're driving them to games and practices, enrolling them in a youth sports performance program, and taking them to sports camps and clinics, it is also important to help nurture their attitude towards playing sports and provide them with your support and encouragement throughout their entire athletic career and beyond.