Practice Time

Today, afterschool my son said to me, “Today proves that I don’t want to be an author. I love to tell stories, but jeeeez mom – my teacher makes me write the same paragraph over and over and over. It’s ridiculous.”

I informed him that I make my students do the same. He was mortified.

I answered, “Well son, any skill take practice. You don’t expect to go out in the driveway and make a 3-point shot, do you? You practice, and practice, and practice…until you get it right.”

Blank stare. At me.

This got me thinking…

When I went to High School (albeit 20 years ago) and participated in sports we had practice. Practice from 3:30-5 PM and a couple of games a week. That’s what we did.


These students lift weights before school AND have practice after school. These students show up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday to watch film from Friday night’s game. These students go back on Sunday night for ‘position’ meetings.


I’m not joking. At first, I thought it was just the school district that my children are in – turns out, not so much. I now hear these stories from other parents. It’s coined ‘dedication’ – oh, the semantics.

I have several issues with this…like…
When do these students sleep?
When do these children spend time with their family?
When do these students study?
How do these children learn employability and accountability skills since there is little time for a part-time job?
When do these children, well…just get to be children?

All of those are valid questions, but today – I have one question. Academic related, of course.

What if students took the ‘extra’ time they spend on their hobby and studied? Two things here – yes, I said hobby. How many of our High School students will ACTUALLY have a career in the NFL or the NBA? Come on folks, get real. Second thing, study. What if they really, really studied.

Take the ‘non-essential’ practice time and that’s an extra seven hours a week! In a past post I wrote about students taking ‘easy’ courses so they could raise their GPA. Maybe this is due to a lack of study time? I don’t know…but that certainly would help take care of that, wouldn’t it?

Those seven hours don’t even count the available hours in the summer. I don’t know about the rest of you – but we played Volleyball or Football in the Fall, Basketball or Wrestling in the winter, Track & Field or Golf in the Spring, and then some of my friends played Softball during the summer. I did not play any sport, practice any sport, or prepare for any sport year-round. I imagine my ADD-like brain (no I am not diagnosed, but do have a self-admitted attention span issues) would have not handled that well.

A friend of mine and I have ben thinking about offering a ‘College-Prep Writing Camp’ this summer for local High School Graduates. We had a great time imagining how wonderful it would be to get 20 students at $100 each. They would get 8-12 sessions. Then, we had a good laugh. Most parents I know will shell out $200-$500 for a 3-day football, basketball, volleyball, you name it camp.

All in the name of getting better…all in the name of “well…if my child is good enough they might get a College Scholarship.”


They can also get a College Scholarship for being intelligent.

At the Dentist this week I had a conversation with my Doctor about this very idea-the amount of time that 8th graders spend practicing, at tournaments, and in meetings.

His response, “I agree with you, but just try to tell that to the coaches.”

Since when are coaches in charge?

In another conversation, “I know, I hate spending all that time and money – but it’s what my kids want.”

Since when are kids in charge?

Hey, parents! I have an idea. Let’s stand up for what’s best for our kids. Balance. I’m not suggesting we become anti-sports or completely focus on our studies…but I think we’re out of balance and here is the deal, if we stick together – maybe, just maybe we can get the pendulum to swing back to the center.

I’ve started. My son is in 6th grade, and I have yet to ‘let’ him play in a ‘crazy tournament league.’ Why? Because on any given Saturday, I want to take him to a museum, to visit his grandparents, to go on a bike ride, to drive 3 hours to a Farmers Market, to make a treehouse, to do anything. Together.

This does not make me a popular parent; not with him, his friends, or other parents. However, it does make me a parent that is in charge. We all do what we can for our children – most of all, I want him to have a childhood.

This means that he will (and does) miss practice time…except for practicing to really live life.

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