Two sports in the same season, it doesn’t end. We just switch which team gets dibs on our kids. Now that fall soccer is over we head into the winter season. The fall soccer players are taking on winter sports, but also playing indoor or futsal, or just plain training outside. Two sports in the same season: I call this overlap season. Well, overlap used to be a season, now it’s year round.
- cross country AND soccer.
- indoor track AND soccer.
- basketball AND soccer.
- swim AND soccer.
- high school AND club, etc. etc. etc.
The justification used to be, run in order to get (or stay) fit for soccer season. Or play high school for fun but be serious about your club team. The problem is: good athletes are good athletes. Everybody wants them. And you don’t want to limit their options (too much), because your pretty good soccer player may turn into a state champion miler!
It would be nice if we could simplify, but I don’t see the overlap and multi-sport seasons stopping any time soon. So, the question becomes: how do we prepare them for the inevitable? Let’s look at this from three vantage points: the coach, the parent and the athlete.
If You’re a Coach
If you’re a coach, you’re primary objective is to develop your athletes, but they must remain healthy in order to train to play their best. When they are pulled in multiple directions during a season…
- Find out what ELSE your athletes are playing/doing.
- Give them a break, nothing should be mandatory for a young athlete.
- Tell them to listen to their bodies.
- Watch for changes in how they move on the field.
- Find out if anything hurts them.
- Address niggles with care before they become injuries.
- Make it safe for them to address the small stuff without losing their spot on the team or the field.
- Contact the other coach (be the bigger coach and make the first call!) and work out how you can SHARE.
- Compromise in the name of the health of the kid, even if the big game, the tournament win or the college showcase are at stake.
- Help your high school athletes assess whether to specialize in one sport, even if it’s not the one you coach.
If You’re a Parent
If you’re a parent, you’re primary objective is guiding your child toward growth and health and achieving his/her potential. This may or may not, ultimately, include sports; however athletics offers tremendous opportunities to move this process forward. Kids who love challenging their bodies on the field of play probably find a lot of life in them. So, when they are being tugged limb from limb…
- Know your kid’s schedule and the demands of his/her practices.
- Be in touch with both coaches to share your hopes and concerns and to find out theirs.
- Encourage your child to share how they feel – physically, mentally, emotionally.
- Feed and water them just like anything else in your garden and teach them to prioritize this in the name of their own health.
- Plan for the quick transition between activities with healthy, convenient snacks so fast food isn’t their main fuel.
- Provide healthy variety in the meals you can control, this means fruits and vegetables, and probably calcium-fortified dairy and complete protein sources.
- Insist on sufficient rest – 8 hours/night is the goal (I get laughs when I mention this in seminars, but without sufficient rest, the brain does not think well and the body does not perform well.)
- Keep the long term perspective, even and especially when your child can’t.
- Help them reason through decisions about what’s best for their future and make sure it’s their hopes they are pursuing, not yours
If You’re an Athlete
If you’re an athlete, overlap season is VERY confusing. You’re good, maybe very good, at more than one sport and you don’t want to give anything up. You’re afraid that if you take a season off, you may fall behind your current competitors. So, when the drive to compete, the fear of failure and a little bit of ego have you squeezed in the vice…
- Prepare for the upcoming season in the pre-season. Since there really is no “off season” these days, pre-season should be about focused training to prepare your body for the demands ahead. Push gradually.
- Include range of motion exercises and stretching. It’s okay to train in a way that doesn’t leave you sore!
- Listen to your body before it screams at you and attend to the niggles.
- Consult with a fitness coach or specialist to safely streamline your training in the limited time you have.
- Make eating a healthy and varied diet and staying hydrated a priority. Your engine will not run well on substandard fuel.
- Get enough sleep and rest enough to feel recovered. Your body cannot perform its best if you are neglecting ANY of these.
- Keep the door open to conversation with your coach(es) – all of them.
- Talk honestly with your parents and/or an adult who you trust to keep perspective, especially if what a coach demands is more than you can provide.
Coaches, parents and athletes, the issue may seem hard but the solution really is simple: put the needs of the kid first. Let’s not make this so complicated.