Welcome to Stay in the Game, a monthly blog where the team from The Queen's Health Systems share the latest tips on the treatment and prevention of sports injuries. We want to help you play hard and be well - a winning combination that will keep you in the game all season long.

Parenting athletes to success

The balance between parenting and supporting your student athlete can be tricky. As parents, we want to see our kids succeed to the best of their ability in sports. But, we should set the expectation that our children may or may not play their sports beyond the high school level, in college or professionally. By encouraging our athletes to cherish and enjoy every moment of their youth sports, we can allow them to succeed through their own ambition, instead of pressuring them and demanding unrealistic standards.

There is strong evidence that shows youth athletes who continue sport participation up through collegiate and professional levels have typically experienced less pressure from their parents, but had strong levels of supportiveness. In short, these athletes loved their sport and couldn't give up playing. Knowing this, how would you ensure your child enjoyed participating in extracurricular activities without pressure from you to perform? Encouragement, positive reinforcement, and supportive actions are often all a child needs to hear or see from a parent to have a good attitude about their sports participation.

NCAA.org offers research showing the probability of advancing to the professional level from high school athletics. The numbers are intimidating. Using soccer as an example, only about 5.6% of high school players will reach the NCAA level (1.3% specifically for Division I). Additionally, reviewing figures of high school athletes who become professional athletes, out of the total 440,332 existing high school soccer players, only 75 ended up advancing to the Major League Soccer (MLS) draft. This equals an approximate 0.017% chance that any child will move up from high school soccer to the professional league.

For student athletes in 2017, the Estimated Probability of High School Athletes Competing in College Athletics (Top 5) include:

Lacrosse: 12.3% Ice Hockey: 24.1%
Ice Hockey: 11.7% Lacrosse: 12.9%
Baseball/Swimming: 7.1% Field Hockey: 10.1%
Football: 6.8% Swimming: 7.4%
Cross Country: 5.6% Cross Country/Soccer: 7.2%

The data shows us the reality of becoming a professional athlete as a career option for our kids may be out of reach. While these dreams of success are nice to hope for, as parents, we should do two things:

• Accept the statistical reality that our children will probably not grow up to be professional athletes, much less collegiate ones
• Encourage our young athletes by limiting our feedback on their participation to this simple statement, "I loved watching you play today."

For more advice on setting up your athletes for success, contact our experts at the Queen's Center for Sports Medicine at 808-691-4449 or click the button below.

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