Are there too many sports practices for students?

Seventh grader Joelle Haines dribbles the ball up field during a game. In this game she is playing with Kinja FC (photo by Kira Crutcher).

Are the sports practices students are participating both in and out of school too much to handle? At ASL, there were 160 seventh and eighth grade students taking part in sports in the fall, 148 in winter and 141 in the spring. Many student athletes have to learn to balance their sports practices with their school work and their social life. This often means they have to learn how much practice is right for them. Different middle school students have different thoughts on their practices.

Grade 6 student Campbell Lazar plays soccer for Kinja Football Club, plays tennis at Urban Tennis, does dance at London Dance Project and plays softball and basketball at London Sports. Lazar says it can get busy and stressful to manage school and sports, but she loves to play sports. She believes that practicing allows her to do better in games. Although Lazar believes training is beneficial, she realises that there is a limit to how much training a student can do. “Too much training all the time can be bad because it can hurt the athlete or strain their muscles. But if you practice a good amount and not too much than you can improve your skills,” said Lazar.

Tristan Weiss, Grade 6 plays soccer at Kinja Football club, baseball and American football. Weiss believes regular training and private practices are beneficial for different reasons. “In regular training it’s based off of the team as a whole. You are working on something that the team needs to strengthen. Individually, you get to dictate more what you want to work on,” Weiss said.

As Weiss is training a lot, he says it can be difficult at times to balance school and sports but he sets a plan that allows him to do both. “In terms of school work you have to get it out of the way earlier because when you come home you are really tired so you don’t really have the mind-set to do homework that late,” Weiss said. He also said that each individual athlete has to decide how much training is right for them.

Joelle Haines is a grade 7 student and an avid athlete and spends lots of time playing lacrosse at the club associated with ASL, softball at ASL, soccer at Kinja FC and basketball at ASL. By training more Haines has found an impact on her level of skill. “It allows you to advance a little faster, which allows you to get better skills,” Haines said.

She also said that she enjoys pushing herself when training to develop her skills more. Haines believes athletes should do what is best for them on how much they practice. “I think it depends on what type of athlete you are. Some people like to train more than others do; some people like to train less,” said Haines.

Grade 8 student Leighton Van Wagner played soccer for ASL in the fall and currently plays for the lacrosse club associated with ASL. Van Wagner said she doesn’t practice much outside of her regular practice, but when she does she will throw a ball around her backyard. “I think it is less organized at home, but I like that it is more flexible than at practice. However, I like the practices better because I can do it with other people and learn from them,” Van Wagner said.

She believes it is beneficial for athletes to train more. “I do believe that practice makes perfect and that the more you train the better you will get. This is because the skills will be in your mindset more and you will know the physical moves that you need to execute,” Van Wagner said. She also said that she understands how it may be hard to balance school and sports.

Mr. Harry Sherman is a head coach for four teams at Kinja Football club. Mr. Sherman works a lot with middle school students, many from ASL. Mr. Sherman believes practice is beneficial to players but there are some risks for athletes. “The more practice you get at a specific topic, the better you will get,” said Mr. Sherman. “However, if you over practice you tend to get into habits and you are more at risk of injuries.”

Mr. Sherman also believes over-depending on a sport is not mentally healthy for an athlete. “If you are practicing a lot of the time, for a long time and say you get an injury which means you can’t play or something happens that means you can’t practice a lot anymore, you find yourself in a very difficult situation where you don’t know what to do. You are just left stuck, which can cause mental problems,” Mr. Sherman said.

Mr Sherman said that it can be a major problem when athletes overwork themselves to the point where they lose their passion. “The worst thing an athlete can do is over- practice and lose their love of the sport,” said Mr Sherman said. He said athletes can prevent this by realizing “that if it gets to a point to where you’re not enjoying it, and you think you have reached a point where you are finished.”

As a coach for over five years, Mr Sherman said that he especially sees many middle school students lose their passion for their sport, mostly due to overworking themselves. “As a coach you notice it because they are not giving it as much in training. They aren’t working as hard as they can,” said Mr Sherman.

Regular training and individual trainings have been shown to be beneficial to players. Mr Sherman believes that the players’ preference varies from athlete to athlete. “You get players who focus more in a group environment that learn more from other people. Then you will see those players who like to focus on their own weaknesses and can learn from that,” Mr Sherman said.

Mr. Sherman believes training outside of practice is a crucial part of being an athlete. “You don’t even have to go to a private or pay a fortune for a private coach, even just working out in the garden makes a difference,” Mr Sherman said. “Although you can learn from group practices, you have got to have the drive individually so you can strengthen the weaknesses that you have.”

Although Mr Sherman realizes the amount an athlete trains is up to them, he has one piece of advice. “As long as you are enjoying yourself do as much as you can. Just don’t over do it, don’t over pressurize yourself and just do what you love to do.”

If students want to become serious about their sports, they need to work out a schedule that allows them to balance school and their activities. They also need to figure out how much practice is right for them. This enables athletes to improve without overworking themselves. Coaches and athletes recommend that an athlete puts effort into their training and make sure the drills they are executing are right for them. However, one of the most important things is to make sure they you are having fun, you should love playing your sport.

About Kira Crutcher ('21)

Staff Writer (2016-17)

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