Train Your Child to be a Pro

It may be too late for you to be a professional athlete, but it’s not too late for your child.

Noel Gressner, a physical therapist at Doctors’ Hospital Center Outpatient Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, has been training young athletes for many years and shares some of his thoughts on how you should work with your child to enable them to fulfill their dreams.

“Playing many different sports, developing skills like agility, coordination, learning how games are played — and competing, experiencing losing and gaining confidence — are just some of the life lessons your child can learn by participating in sports,” says Mr. Gressner, “It also teaches them how to make their own decisions.”

It’s important that your child have fun, but also develop character and sportsmanship, he said.

“When you start hearing from your child that they want to go in another direction, like expressing the desire to go to a training camp in the summer, maybe it’s time to think about taking the sport more seriously,” says Mr. Gressner.

“You can’t just wake up and become a pro.  The best thing that parents can do is to expose their kids to many different sports, and settle on the one their child is “pretty good at and move in that direction,” he said.

But before you get on the pro path with your child, there are other skills and maturity levels that need to be considered. Some questions you might want to ask yourself are:

  • Is your child psychologically ready?
  • Are they afraid to lose?
  • Do they learn from their losses, respond respectfully and maturely?
  • Do they have self-discipline?
  • Are they willing to sacrifice?
  • Do they get ready for practice without coaxing?
  • When they practice are they aware that practicing helps prevent injury?
  • Is this your dream or is it theirs?

“To be successful as a pro, your child must possess a certain mindset that allows him or her to have the mental toughness to succeed,” says Mr. Gressner, “they must also be able to realize that one loss is not the end of the world, and that they must be able to separate what they do from their own self worth.”

He recommends that you should consider more one-on-one coaching advice when your child’s ability and skill levels start to outpace their peers.  One resource that might be helpful for a parent is the U.S. Tennis Association’s (USTA)   parent guidelines to gain insight as to the steps you should follow on the road to your child’s professional development.

Letting the child lead the way, according to the USTA, encourages an “optimal level of push.” But the USTA also says that parents should not be afraid to push a little (“which I know you are happy to hear”) and Mr. Gressner agrees.

Mr. Gressner says that parents should be encouraged to move forward “as long as the child is having fun and competing, developing and growing and passing the competitive markers for their age.”

Becoming a professional athlete or highly skilled in any activity takes many years of dedicated training.

“So, allowing a child to enjoy the sport/s they are participating in without being too serious too soon is an important component in their personal and athletic development,” says Mr. Gressner.  “As they progress, being more specialized or a more professional approach to training becomes more appropriate.”


Noel-243x300About Noel Gressner, PT, DPT, MTC, MEd, ATC, LAT, CSCS
Noel Gressner has been in the sports medicine field for over 18 years.  Mr. Gressner has been a certified athletic trainer (ATC) for 18 years, 16 of that also as a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) and almost 8 of that also as a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).  Currently, Mr. Gressner is working as a physical therapist with Doctors Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine treating a broad age range of patients with a wide spectrum of orthopedic and sports conditions.  He has worked as a certified athletic trainer and physical therapist in various settings including high school, collegiate and professional.  Mr. Gressner has also worked as a certified strength and conditioning specialist for the United States Tennis Association.  Recently, Mr. Gressner did a two-week volunteer rotation at the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado serving as physical therapist/athletic trainer, treating some of our nation’s top athletes. Mr. Gressner is also a certified tennis teaching professional with the United States Professional Tennis Association and the Professional Tennis Registry.






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