Dd struggling with sport and yr7(23 Posts)
Hope someone can help
Dd has just gone up to year 7 and is struggling so much with everything.
She competes at national level in her chosen sport and currently does 21 hours training a week. 3 weeks into the new year and she's on her knees both emotionally and physically.
She's adamant she's not giving her sport up but admits she's not enjoying it as much any more. I've spoken to her coach who has said she doesn't want her to leave but equally doesn't want her to be miserable at training.
School are aware of the level of commitment with training and competing and are prepared to cut her some slack re homework etc. Trouble is dd is a high achiever academically as well and the concept of not doing homework is completely alien to her - I've found her a couple of mornings at 5am sat at the computer trying to do homework and this is after it getting to bed until 10 the night before due to training.
She's very emotional, bursting into tears at the drop of a hat but doesn't know what's wrong or how to fix it. I know hormones probably have a bit to do with it but I can't bear seeing her so unhappy.
Any ideas of where to go next? Or tips on how to make things a little less stressful for us all? Or even tales from others who've been through this and can reassure me (and her) it will get better?
Not sure how much I'll be of help but can sympathise. Y7 is a massive adjustment for any young person, let alone one consuming so many hours training and competing at national level. We're now in Y9 approaching that level but not so many hours training as your DD (or pressure from being such a high level)
Rather than prematurely give up her sporting career (for possibly the wrong reasons), could you ask the coaches for some training hours leeway until at least xmas hols for her to adjust to the new routine and how she plans her increased homework into her schedule?
It's all very well coaches saying it makes kids brilliant at multi tasking (which it really does), but it shouldn't be at the expense of zapping the enjoyment out of it. If I had a pound for every now an adult in my DD's sport that said but I just wish I enjoyed it more when I was at school.
Lessons learned from us as we're in Y9 now and from experience with another higher achiever is:
- Definitely approach teachers when some slack is needed, be prescriptive with when to call in a deferral card
- Assure her it will get easier, and not everything needs to be 100% all the time (easier said than done I know!). It sounds like her standards are already higher than the average.
- If a homework runs over the allocated time, then submit it uncompleted. This is ok.
- Develop a network of friends (over time) that can help, especially if she misses class due to sport/training. Even simple Whatsapp connectivity can give her access to a support network
- Mentally note the cycles of her sport especially if comps are seasonally built for following years so you know where the major time stress points will be (and proactively discuss with her what to do differently to alleviate the stress)
- Learn to do homework on the go. If she's now in Y7, she won't be the only one with books/laptop on the sidelines with the senior school kids
- Do make allowances for the hormonal changes - it was huge in Y7 for us too, and comes still in waves. (Friendship issues, inclusiveness, activities etc). Y8 was much better, Y9 is tough again because GCSE course pressure kicking in. BUT, Autumn term is always the hardest, and (in our experience), it gets easier thereafter.
- May/exam time - only you can gauge this one. Most of DD's peers reduced/stopped training through revision/exam periods. We reduced slightly, but maintained the schedule as much as possible, as this won't go away if they keep the sport. And make her accept that she can't turn out top results for everything. And it doesn't matter.
- Find her de-stressing 'thing', as a tonic when things get tough. It's food with ours
In return I get organisational chaos at home, because she has to keep it so together during the long day. I can cope with this...--just about--
Apologies for the essay OP; I have one more important one...
Don't let a bad event define your decisions (if your DD ever under performs badly in her sport). Come out of it and move on to the next without going into knee jerk 'gotta stop this' discussions at a dark time. Seen lots of children do this, and then either regret or then try and re-enter, but things are not quite the same.
May be harder for you if your DD has been at top of her talent from early age and does something like gymnastics. Mine is opposite and finding form late in her sport (vs those that were innately performing well early) resulting in less pressure on her, though there are always still performance blips to deal with rationally. Our car journeys home could be hard work but I've learnt to not engage until the post disappointment blues have resided.
However the day she says enough, we will call it a day. There's lots of things in life other than dedication to one thing.
If she's really serious about her sport, and that's more important to her than seeing her friends at school every day, then online schooling might be an answer? At the one my DD attends, all the lessons are uploaded to the lesson library afterwards, so if the students don't attend the real-time lesson, they can catch up with it afterwards. You can authorise the child's absence any time. It's pretty flexible, though it's grown massively in size in the last few years and as a result is less flexible now about timetables. The hours are less than a conventional school because a) there's no time wasted moving between classrooms, settling them down, etc., and b) they don't do the arty/techy subjects, or sport or anything, so it's mainly just the core curriculum. Easy to provide that stuff outside school, though.
The big advantage is that they can be at school anywhere (time difference permitting). We were just on holiday for a week and DD attended lessons when she wanted, and I authorised the absences for the ones she (reluctantly!) missed and she caught up with them from the lesson library later.
DD is at Interhigh, but there are others too, I think. They have (or did have, anyway) kids on role who are actors/sportspeople/musicians, and need that flexibility.
In terms of friends, DD's school friends are massively important to her, as is 'seeing' them every day - it's just that she's seeing them over skype and hearing them through the headset, rather than being in the actual same room with them, iyswim.
If it's gymnastics, I am a gymnastics club owner , but would as a parent advise you very very strongly advise you to move your child into a less demanding discipline where she can still keep going and compete on fewer hours a week.
1) as you progress through gymnastics new skills get more and more difficult to attain and more and more hours are required at the same time as school demands increase and social activities increase.
2) most kids will reach the end of their potential or injuries will stop them before they get to 16
Does she do PE/dance at school? I would suggest (given the amount of exercise she does outside of school) that you request that she spends her PE lesson time doing any homework she can manage, to lessen her evening load. I realise that "exercise is super important" but as she's doing competitive level sport for over 20 hours per week, I doubt that PE is adding much of any value. She may be able to do work somewhere with support staff who can give her assistance if she gets stuck.
Can you arrange a total rest over half term?
perhaps help her to really timetable her time. all her time. So how many hours at school but factoring in time spent on homework. If school say it should take x amount of time then that amount of time needs to be allocated. You need to find out if she is spending too long on her school work. If she is then either she needs help with it, needs to stop doing "extra" on top of her homework requirements if her sport is more important or she needs to recognise that to do that extra time on school work she physically can't fit in the amount of time on sport.
I agree about perhaps getting permission to spend school PE lessons in the library doing her study instead.
Thanks all - certaintly given me food for thought.
I going to have a word with the school re her using PE lessons to catch up with work in the library - it makes perfect sense for her to sit those out. I've also had a look at her homework schedule and have discovered that she's not only been doing her set homework but has also been trying to do the optional bonus home works which are set weekly in several subjects!! So she's agreed she will only do what she needs to from now on.
Like a pp said - the day she says she doesn't want to go to training is the day we stop. I will never push her to keep going - my dm did that to me as a child with ballet and I refuse point blank to put my kids through that. So everything is driven by dd and I think that's what I need to manage.
I'm seeing her coach again to night to talk about maybe reducing hours for a bit to see if it helps and have told dd we will have to see how things go between now and Christmas. If things improve - great! If not then we shall look at it again.
Music not sport here, but for the past few years DD has used DT and art lessons to fit in extra practice. Might this be an option along with using the PE lesson time to give your DD extra time to get homework done during the school day?
Thought I'd update on this.
Spoke to the school and her HOY has told her her she only needs to ask for an extension if she's struggling to get homework done. Dd has agreed not to do any of the optional homework and her homework load has halved!
We've deferred asking for her to sit out of lessons until Christmas as dd doesn't want to be seen as different and I'm inclined to agree with her while she's making new friends and finding her feet.
Her coach was reluctant to permanently reduce her hours but has eased off on the intensity of her training for now and has told her if she has too much to do it won't be the end of the world if she misses a training session once in a while.
HOY has also spoken to a lad in her class who was teasing her and that seems to have been nipped in the bud and she's happier at school too.
However we've just found out she's made county team and has been shortlisted for the Regional one as well so things are going to ramp up again after half term so think I may be reassessing sooner rather than later.
Anyway all in all dd is much happier and seems to have regained her mojo
Thankyou for all the advice
21 hours a week is a lot. Not sure what sport it is but dd is regional level in one sport and county in another, plus she does two other sports as hobbies. She does roughly 11 hours a week in total. (shes the same age). She's a bright girl and diligent but luckily not a really high achiever so she is happy just to get homework done, she seems to be getting good marks. She still has time to go into town with friends occasionally and watch endless youtube videos .
I just take a week off if she's looking knackered.
Remember being successful in sport is a long game.
I am glad to hear she is feeling better but:
3 weeks into the new year and she's on her knees both emotionally and physically.She's adamant she's not giving her sport up but admits she's not enjoying it as much any more. I've spoken to her coach who has said she doesn't want her to leave but equally doesn't want her to be miserable at training.
she is heading for burnout!
Burnout is exactly what I'm worrying about
I'm hoping as she finds her feet and settles down in a routine then everything will get easier and less stressful.
I'm also determined she will reduce her training (if not give up altogether) if I think it's all too much - no sport or hobby is worth making yourself ill either physically or mentally over.
And I'll deal with the meltdowns should this happen
I think all I can do now is watch and wait and step in if necessary. She is a lot happier this week - think a lot of it was to do with the low level bullying she was experiencing and it was all too much emotionally.
I am sure you will keep an eye on it.
21 hours a week at 11/12 really is a huge amount.
Remember in year 9 schoolwork ramps upand she will want to work even harder if she's that type of girl.
not sure how much money you have but if you have enough to go away for a week at half term that can really help (we never do but I see people who do and their kids really come back looking amazingly rested)
In many sports eg gymnastics if you're competing at national level then you don't also do county /regional teams. So if you're competing for England you don't also compete for south east for example.
Our gym usually does an email about county /regional squad that says for example 'Mary Smith, selected but declined due to England commitments'.
If she's already competing for England /wales/Scotland /great Britain then would she really take up regional squad as well, it doesn't make sense!
Sorry seem to have caused confusion - she's competing at national level e.g. National finals but hasn't made the national team but is hoping to trial for them next year so is able to do County and Regional teams if selected.
That's in the future though - all I'm really worried about at the moment is getting her through the next few months with having moved up to secondary school and all that entails and trying to help her balance training and school demands. We will deal with moving up another level in her sport if it ever happens at a later date when we have to
Is it a sport she could do at a specialist school. I know of a boy who moved to Millfield Boarding School so that his swimming could be incorporated into his school day.
Would school let her miss pe and use that time for homework instead?
Even at our primary there are children who miss 2 afternoons a week for sports training. The older ones do mornings only at secondary but they are national level and they do a lot if studying outside school it's school, sport, nothing else.
Great update OP. You seem to have your eyes open and aware of the risks/benefits...making adjustments when you see the warning signs is key, but school being really supportive will really help.
In our experience the Autumn term is always the hardest.
Guessing from the hours it’s Gymnastics.
My DD did gym, and trained just under 20 hours a week. In year 6, she gave up for a range of different reasons. She has since gone back at a much lower level (Now does regional grades) and is much happier with that.
Now she’s year 9, she wouldn’t have been able to cope with the hours, the homework and actually having a bit of a social life.
Unless your daughter is doing compulsories, then it’s very unlikely she’ll ever make it as a top gymnast. So, I always think it best to treat gym as just one very expensive hobby. Don’t invest too much into it, because you invest their whole childhoods into it, and one day (sooner or later) she will turn around and say I don’t want to do it any more. This was once the advice given to me by a mum of another gymnast. She was very good, went to British Championships etc.. (gym, but not artistic) and yep, she too turned around one day and said no more.
Every now and then, my daughter misses gym and sometimes asks to increase her hours, but I won’t let her. Not worth the pressure it put on —everyone— everything else. So she’s taken up trampolining instead! At least the hours are slightly more sane for that!
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