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Should I Push My Tall Son to Play Basketball?

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Should I Push My Tall Son to Play Basketball?

Now that I'm a parent, the answers regarding my own children are not always obvious. I would appreciate any insight anyone may offer.

My husband and I have 4 tall sons and a very short adopted daughter. My oldest son has no interest in sports. He's very studious and has tried a variety of sports. He didn't liked them and moved on. He's very active in a variety of other clubs including music and academics. We are perfectly fine with what he is doing.

My next son is in middle school. He enjoys football. This year he is trying basketball after not playing for a few years. One physical problem he faces is that his leg bones have grown faster than his tendons, so the muscles are constantly pulled. When running, it's very painful. During football, they cut him some slack and he didn't have to do as much running as the other kids.  After 3 days of basketball season, he isn't loving it and want to call it quits.  He feels awkward and uncoordinated.

My husband and I have learned how to tape his ankles so that the pain is lessened. This particular child is extremely tall. He has the potential to be over 6'6" tall. We don't want to push him into something he hates, but we feel that middle school is a good time to learn the basic skills of a sport. We feel like he should play this year, before making any permanent decisions.  However, we don't want to fight him every day regarding this issue.  At least if he decides to play later on, he needs a foundation of skills and know the basic rules of the game.

I played basketball in high school while my husband didn't. As the tallest girl around, I felt intense pressure to play basketball. I didn't love it for a few years as I was growing so fast and was uncoordinated. I'm thankful my parents kept encouraging me as I eventually learned to love it.

I'd love every one's thoughts on this issue as I want to be supportive of my child. Yet, I don't want him to grow up resenting me for pushing him into the cookie-cutter mold of having to play basketball just because he's tall.  Ugh! Help!

Please sound off by commenting below.

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5 Comments:

Blogger BAM said...

This is indeed an interesting debate. Here is my personal experience. Not sure if it will help or not. Also, I don't have kids so I can only guess at what you're going through and do not have concrete experience in the kid arena (yet).

I played basketball casually (not competitively) here and there until high school. I REALLY wish my parents had started me younger and perhaps gotten me involved in NJB or another youth league, but we had a lot of church obligations that took priority back then and sports took a back seat to that.

When I entered high school, I had just finished my final growth spurt to my final height of 6'2 and was still growing into my body and getting used to my long limbs. Needless to say, I was rather uncoordinated so I can certainly relate to how your son is feeling and how you say that you felt at first when you played.

I played volleyball and basketball for 3 years in high school, but I basically only played so I could get out of having to do general PE class. I would honestly take any chance I got to sit on the bench if I was even mildly sick or injured because I didn't like all the attention being on me (as I was often the tallest girl on the court) because I was embarrassed by how uncoordinated I was. Looking back, I very much wish my parents had put me in sports at a young age - say 7 or 8 years old - so that I could have potentially been more coordinated as I grew and could have enjoyed playing sports more.

I've always maintained that when I have kids, I will try putting them in sports, dance etc. at a young age and if they take to it - great. And if not, then oh well but I'm at least going to give it a shot.

You say your son enjoys football right? Do you think he'd be happier just focusing on that? I know I loved volleyball WAY more than basketball.

When I look back over the anxiety I felt on game days because I knew that people would be watching me play, and I knew I was awkward and gangly, I'm not sure it was worth all the anxiety and stress I experienced. BUT it sounds like you had a positive experience with your parents encouraging you to keep playing even though you weren't loving it at first so I could see where this dilemma would be a tough one for you. I actually kind of like your idea of encouraging him to play this year (or maybe even a few months?) and then make a decision. I feel like maybe it could be a good life lesson (i.e. persevere through a difficult situation and hopefully gain character and confidence from doing so) in addition to laying a good basketball foundation in the event he decides he wants to keep playing or play at a later date. What would you think about requesting that he keep at it for 2-3 months instead of the whole year and then decide? Or maybe quitting mid-season isn't a very viable option? I'm just thinking that a whole year may seem like a long time to someone his age but he may be more amenable to giving it a shot for a few months...

Gosh. I don't know if any of this was helpful. Hopefully some of it was.

October 20, 2011 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger jheri said...

I think it is important that he not dislike the activity. Neutral or liking it is reason for encouragement. Are there other sports that don't hurt as much? I would worry about football with the concusions.

My gym teacher hated me as I was the tallest girl or boy in my grade from 7th through 12th grade and I didn't play basketball or volleyball. I really fought on this and felt I was too uncoordinated. I did love running, biking and tree climbing and it didn't hit me that maybe track woud have been good for running. I wish I would have.

A problem if he is the tallest kid is that people expect more because of his height and that puts a lot of pressure on him. If he is athletically gifted that isn't a problem, but if he isn't it will be tough.

When your daughter is old enough get her into sports. There are many that are made for smaller people too!

A friend of mine is an extremely tall women. She was 6'5 when she turned 15. She also was great at baseball, volleyball and basketball and that cut through the social ice in school for her. It made being so different much easier.

Sports can be very positive. It doens't have to be in school if there is something he likes. Cycling, rowing, rock climbing and things like that are also great.

October 20, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Krista said...

I love this feedback. You've brought up a lot of good points. I would love to hear more.

October 20, 2011 at 3:45 PM  
Anonymous Lacey W said...

I saw this post during the week but just now getting the chance to comment. I don't have kids so I definitely don't feel qualified to offer advice from a parent's standpoint but I'll share my experience with sports.

From the age of 5, I always played one sport or another - softball, basketball, volleyball. (I think I played basketball because people expected me to - but that didn't mean it was my best sport.)

I remember my parents asking me if I wanted to continue playing basketball once I got to high school or if I would rather play volleyball year-round (with the school, then with a traveling team). I didn't even realize this was an option! It was almost as if I played basketball because I was expected to, but given the option to hang it up, I gladly did and never regretted it.

As an adult, I grow tired of people asking me, "Did you play basketball?" That being said- I don't think we'll be able to change that stereotype if we don't let tall kids know that they have other options.

I would definitely encourage some type of sport or activity though. Even in baseball and softball, there are advantages to being tall. And socially, being tall has never phased me - part of that is because while playing sports, I always viewed it as an advantage.

Hope this helps!

October 23, 2011 at 7:37 AM  
Anonymous JT said...

This is a very interesting post. I am a 6'8" male and did play basketball in high school. My opinion is that some pressure to play basketball while younger should be made, but observe you kid to make sure he really enjoys it. If you don't, he may regret it when he's older and everyone expects that he played. If he doesn't like it, be sure to foster other activities and encourage personal happiness above all! Thanks for the post, great topic!

November 5, 2011 at 6:28 AM  

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