For parents, time with children best spent on fun, not lessons

The Baltimore Sun

DEAR CAL -- I've been trying to give my 10-year-old daughter some basketball pointers. She won't listen to me, but if the coach tells her the same thing, she hangs on her every word. Am I doing something wrong?

Greg Fridinger, Severna Park

DEAR GREG -- This is something I believe is experienced by all parents. Even though I was fortunate enough to play for a long time and have a Hall of Fame career, I went through the same thing when my son, Ryan, was younger. As a father, all you can do is provide your daughter with the information you feel she needs to succeed. Make suggestions and offer instruction, but keep in mind our kids often see their time with us as fun time, while they see practice as the time to be more serious and improve.

So, if your daughter is just trying to play with you and have a good time, her tuning you out might be a mechanism of simply trying to have fun. Make suggestions when you feel it is necessary and be sure to celebrate when she takes your advice and is successful. But don't overdo it. You want her to enjoy her time with you and not see it as work.

Also, when you are alone together or watching games on television - during what I call "teachable moments" - point out some of the things that her coach has taught her that you have mentioned as well as a method of reinforcement. You'll be surprised, as your daughter progresses, how often she will fall back on your advice when it comes time to compete.

DEAR CAL -- Our son is in weight training for spring baseball at his high school. He came home the other day and said his coach recommended a high-protein diet. As part of this, he wants the kids to drink protein shakes. I know they're legal, because they sell them in the stores. But with all the steroid stuff in the news, I'm a little concerned about taking any supplement that helps kids bulk up. What do you think?

Sarah Boggess, Nashville, Tenn.

DEAR SARAH -- This really is a question best handled by a nutritionist or a certified strength and conditioning coach. Those professionals have taken courses on how diet affects an athlete's training regimen and performance, and they have access to the most up-to-date data when it comes to the safest and most effective supplements.

I've never been a big proponent of supplements, but I can attest to the importance of a well-balanced, structured diet in conjunction with a specialized strength-training program. Part of building muscle after training is incorporating protein into your diet, but to understand what types of foods are best, how much protein is enough and what shakes or other products are safe and effective, I would rely on a professional, and not your coach.

My guess is that many of the same benefits that are achieved through using supplements can be realized by eating properly.

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