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Original Issue

Ask The Coach Guidance for those lost in sports

Dear Coach: My 12-year-old son broke his leg sliding into home
plate. After spending 10 weeks in a cast, he was cleared to play
by his doctor, but now he's tentative on the field, especially
about sliding again. How can I assuage his fears?

Dear Injured: After an injury, physical healing is only part of
the recovery process. An athlete also has to recuperate
psychologically. Talk to your son about his fear of getting
hurt, and make sure he realizes his anxiety is normal. "Reassure
him that healing has already taken place," says Kenneth Baum,
author of The Mental Edge: Maximize Your Sports Potential with
the Mind-Body Connection. Baum also recommends practicing
visualization exercises. "Have him imagine sliding perfectly,"
says Baum, "and have him say, 'I slide perfectly with great
technique.'" The more he can see himself doing the action in his
head, the easier it will be to perform on the field.

Dear Coach: My 14-year-old son is a good pitcher, but he wants to
quit the game to take up bowling. Although I don't have anything
against bowling, let's face it, it's not baseball. How can I
persuade him to stick with a real sport?

Dear Diamond: Better let him do what he wants. "It's important
for parents to introduce their child to a sport and to be excited
about it, but the child should be doing it because he chooses
to," says Joel Fish, director of the Center for Sport Psychology,
in Philadelphia. "The motivation for playing has to come from
him. Using guilt to get your child to play the sport you prefer
doesn't work."