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Son Reluctant to Compete

Answered By Mick Grant & John Molvar

Question

My 12yr old son has been running XC since he was 9...Over time he's begun showing signs of becoming reluctant to race...Doesn't mind practices, but says racing makes him nervous. Some background: He's usually 3rd/4th runner in for his team, and always comes in the top 50% in his races, so he's not out of his "league" per say. He goes to a small school that doesn't have a team so he runs with another school ( considered a rival school)...He likes his coach very much...But, doesn't seem to have any real connection with the other boys on the team...( To be fair, while my son is popular at his school, he's also quiet around kids he doesn't know, so I don't put the blame for this on the other boys)...But he's not getting anything "social" out of the experience at this point...He's also made the comment he wishes his school had a team and that he was running with his friends, etc. He has an older brother and sister who both went to college on cross-country scholarships...So we are something of a running family, but also careful not to make him feel he has to run, or has to prove anything to us, ( although he's obviously aware of his sibs accomplishments)...He's also participated in other sports, but has gravitated himself to running...And we also have another child who has no interest in sports/running at all, and that's not an issue either...So I don't think we're pushy sports parents. We're just not quite sure what to read into this, or how to respond to it...His brother and sister that are runners aren't sure either, with their comments being that they much preferred competing to practicing. Any comments or insight would be greatly appreciated...TIA

Answer

Definitely don't make him race. If he loves to run and practice, let him do that, since training is much more important to long term development than racing is. When he's ready to race, you will know it. Rule 1 Have Fun, Rule 2 Stay Healthy.

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