Dear Athletic Support: My daughter plays on a travel softball team. She’s in sixth grade. We devote almost every weekend in the summer to these tournaments, and we love it! We get to see all these different towns each week and eat at a bunch of great restaurants with some of our closest family and friends. My daughter also loves the competition. So what’s my problem with travel softball? The late nights! They’re horrible. I can’t even begin to tell you how many games we’ve played past midnight. Two weekends ago we had a game at two in the morning! This just seems like too much. Is there any reason why we have to play all these games in one day? I’m pretty sure the boys spread their tournaments out over two days and don’t have to play so late.

— Not A Night Owl

Dear Night Owl: I have absolutely no idea why 12 and 13 year-old girls would be required to play so late into the night.

Since it sounds like y’all enjoy the tournaments, maybe it would be worth talking to your coach about possibly only scheduling tournaments where the schedules aren’t so grueling.

That many games in one day/night can’t be good for girls at that age, or any age. I’m sure it’s not easy on the parents either!

Dear Athletic Support: I have a teenage son who plays on his school sports team. He has a fair amount of talent and ability, but like a lot of teenagers, he sometimes lacks motivation. How do I know how hard to push him without making it miserable for him? I’m not trying to turn him into a five-star prospect, but I want him to maximize his opportunities and enjoy his high school playing days.

—Fun Guy

Dear Fun: There’s no right answer to this question. Instead, you have to ask yourself what is “right” for you.

Here’s what I mean: You want your son to get something out of his athletic career. You already stated that you’re not after a “five star” ranking. So that’s out of the question, but what do you want, exactly?

Do you want him to be a starter? Do you want him to garner All Conference, or even All State accolades? Maybe you hope he’ll break some records along the way. Or maybe you just want him to have fun.

In order to know how hard to push your son, you need to have a clear picture of how you envision his high school athletic career going.

If all of this sounds like some crazy micro-managing dad scheme, then maybe you fall into “just have fun” camp.

We’ve all heard the stories of the dad who pushed his son too hard. Most of those stories end in heartache. Sometimes, though, the very best athletes had a father who worked him harder than the son ever could’ve worked himself.

I’ll guarantee you that those dads had a plan — a vision — for exactly the sort of athlete they wanted their sons to be.

What do you want?

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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