Is your child ready to play at a higher level?

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Three next steps for you and your young athlete

To every sports parent, I say, “I hope your young athlete is enjoying their youth sports experience. I hope they are having fun, growing, making friends, developing skills, and learning valuable life-impacting lessons.”

I recognize, however, that for many of you, the youth sports experience has become more serious because in the process of learning to love the game, your child has become very passionate about being the best they can be, and they desire to keep playing at higher levels.

If that’s you — your child wants to keep pushing themselves and working towards the next level — then you may wonder, how can I best help my child reach their potential?

Some of you may be thinking:

I don’t know enough about the sport to really help my child.

I can’t afford all the private camps or the elite teams that they may need to really reach their potential.

I can’t fit in one more night out of taking my kid to a private trainer!

If that’s you, then I’d like to take a few minutes to help you and your child take that Next Step, to get them on their way to reaching their goals. I cannot tell you how to take the whole journey. You will figure that out as you go, as your child progresses, and as opportunities arise. But I can tell you how to take the Next Step in your child’s development as they seek to improve and hone their skills and game experience.


Next Step #1: Look for opportunities for your athlete to play against older competition.

If your child is very competitive and ready to handle the challenge, they may be ready to “play up.” Simply dominating their peers will not benefit your child and help them improve.

This doesn’t necessarily have to happen every season, but if your child is not challenged, is ready to really push themselves, and is eager to compete at a higher level, this might be the next step that will help them work towards and reach their goals.


Next Step #2: Get honest and objective feedback that your child can use to improve.

This is where you have to be careful. Many private coaches are willing to take your money even if they don’t see much hope for your child really progressing in a sport. Before you go hiring an expensive coach or private trainer to help your child, try getting some free or at least less expensive feedback.

Talk to a variety of coaches who’ve seen your child play. Ask them what they see in your young athlete, as far as what they need to work on to play at the next level.


Next Step #3: Pinpoint what your child needs to be doing better to care for their body.

There’s always something your athlete could improve on when it comes to proper care and feeding of their physical body. Instead of telling them they need an overhaul from eating junk food, not getting enough sleep, and not allowing bodies to recover from the strain of competition, help them focus on one thing they can do differently to improve.

Maybe it’s to give up soda. Maybe it’s to get eight hours of sleep. Or maybe it’s allowing their bodies a day of rest from playing sports. Pick one thing that needs to be improved,
and let it become a habit.


Why the NEXT STEP is so important

Every morning as I walk, I see this house that’s being built. I saw them
lay the footers, install the plumbing, and brick by brick, build up the walls, then finally add the trusses and put
on the roof.

They did not start with the walls or the roof; they started with the foundation. And so it is with your child. Someday, if they achieve their goals, they may be a college athlete, playing at any number of levels, but they will not get there this week, this season, or even this year. Their progress must be made step by step. And right now, today, this season, help them figure out what that next step is for them,
and then support them as they take it.


Janis Meredith, a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, lives in Palo Cedro, CA. She can be reached at Read more on her blog at

Article by By Janis B. Meredith