Dear Athletic Support: Throughout her youth, my daughter has always been an overachiever. She’s done great in school. She’s starred in local plays. She’s even won statewide competitions. Recently, though, she’s wanted to get involved in athletics. There’s just one problem. She’s not super athletic. So it’s hard for her to excel in sports the way she has in other things. I think sports are good for her, but I’m afraid she’s getting discouraged. Is there any way I can help her stay motivated without getting down?

—Overachiever

Dear Overachiever: Even if your daughter isn’t the best at sports, the experience will be good for her.

No one can be the best at everything. That’s a valuable lesson. The sooner your daughter can learn it, the better.

It’s human nature to only enjoy things we’re good at. But the truth of the matter is that the most important things take time to learn how to do well.

When I was growing up, my situation was the exact opposite as your daughter’s. Sports came natural to me. But one day I found an old guitar in my grandpa’s attic. I wanted to learn how to play it. Little did I know, learning to play a musical instrument would not come easy.

It took years before I could play well enough other people actually wanted to listen to me (some might say I’m still not there). But the lesson I learned from practicing guitar was invaluable. I learned how to stick with something even if it didn’t come easy.

Also, no matter how good a child is at sports when he is young, there will come a time when the playing field levels out. What I’m saying is that an athlete might be the best in his youth league, but if he wants to continue playing then eventually he’s going to have to learn how to work hard and practice in order to get the results he’s after.

It’s the same for academics, band, etc. Just because your daughter excels at those things now doesn’t mean that one day she’ll not be in a setting where all the other students are just as talented. What will set her apart, though, will be her work ethic. Her ability to practice hard and improve.

If for no other reason, this is why your daughter should keep playing sports. Even if she’s not that good, she’s learning a valuable lesson in perseverance. And I can promise you that lesson will pay dividends down the road.

Dear Athletic Support: My son never wants to practice baseball over Spring Break. We don’t have any big trips planned. He’s just hanging around the house, but I still can’t get him to go out and practice his pitching with me. Is he just being lazy? Or am I being too hardcore?

—Hardcore Dad

Dear Hardcore: It’s true that your son could keep his skills fresh by practicing over Spring Break, but if he doesn’t have the motivation to put in the extra work, then there’s little you can do to convince him otherwise.

Just try not to throw this back in his face if he finds himself stuck in the dugout once the season begins.

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to eli.cranor@gmail.com

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