It can be tricky keeping your student-athlete on course over the summer. After you’ve allowed your son or daughter ample time to celebrate the end of the school year and stretch their legs a little bit, do you have a plan for guiding them through a fun yet productive summer?
I remember growing up with some ground rules for how time was spent over break, but those were simpler times before smart phones and iPads, and athletic recruiting was certainly not the beast it is today.
In addition to checklists parents can use to stay on top of recruiting, I’ve been thinking about what tactics parents of student-athletes have when it comes to giving their student-athlete some freedom over the summer, while still making sure their good habits and practices throughout the school year are still in place and bettering them for the year ahead.
Over the past few weeks I’ve reached out to friends with children, NCSA Athletic Recruiting coaches who have student-athletes, and other experts for their tips. Here are five of the most important strategies parents can help athletes stay motivated this summer.
Create a daily “out of the house time” for your student-athlete.
Instead of something like a wake-up call, this is simply a reasonable hour – this particular family’s time was 10am – your son or daughter needs to be awake, dressed, and out of the house for a bit.
Maybe it’s going to the gym, taking a walk or bike ride, running errands, mowing the lawn. Whatever the activity may be, encourage your child out of the house, to get fresh air, among real people.
Create a daily checklist.
It may sound simple or even juvenile,but this is a practice many parents responded as being a success. Clear expectations in any scenario make for more accountability, self-motivation, and fewer squabbles.
Here’s a real example a family with a basketball player uses.
Sam’s daily checklist.
- Clean room/bed made
- Household plants watered
- 1 hour of exercise
- Feed and walk dog
- 1 hour “screen free” — reading, listening to music
- Make 50 free throws
Spend one-on-one time with your son or daughter once a week.
As hard (or exciting) as it is to face, your student-athlete will not always be living under your roof.
With the crazy schedules of the school year, along with work schedules and everything else in-between, use the summer to get some quality time in with your son or daughter. If it feels like you already spend a lot of time together, use the summer as a time to explore together and do something different.
If you feel like you simply don’t have the time, make the time. Start a weekly ritual or tradition; it doesn’t have to be all day. It could be an hour. Take advantage of your son or daughter’s free time to remind them you enjoy him or her as a person, and get some quality time in before you’re saying goodbye at a college dorm.
Make your student-athlete responsible for family dinner once a week this summer.
This is a great way to guarantee quality time as mentioned above, while also being a great way to give your student-athlete an adult task under your guidance and support.
It may mean cooking a meal (they could try one of my quick and healthy recipes!) or even just ordering and picking up take out, but once a week, the responsibility is on them. Cooking takes time, attention to detail, care, and creativity – it may even teach them something or show you a side of them you never knew.
Help your student-athlete find a volunteer opportunity.
The advantages of your student-athlete volunteering over the summer are just so strong. Volunteering can provide them with a structure in place of school or a job if done regularly, it will set them apart on a college application, while most importantly, the intrinsic reward knows no bounds.
And don’t forget to encourage them to fill out all the portions of their NCSA recruiting profile. College coaches can’t search for them because of NCAA regulations until they’ve filled out a certain amount of their profile. If your athlete hasn’t gotten started yet, help them build a profile today.