Raising athletically gifted kids

Intelligence isn't the only way children can be gifted. Some kids who are super smart in math, reading or other subjects also have an affinity for sports. Their drive and intellect can help them understand and make complicated plays. Here are some tips for raising an athletically gifted kid:

Talk about perfectionism 
Just like kids can be perfectionists with their schoolwork or personal projects, gifted children can have a similar attitude about sports. Whether it's kicking the soccer ball in the manner of David Beckham or hitting a homer like Sammy Sosa, these kids will likely strive for perfection. While doing well at something can be great, that desire can also be harmful in the event of a less-than-stellar game. Make sure your gifted kids understand that they don't have to be perfect. Sometimes they will have bad plays and screw up and that's OK – it's human nature. 

Discuss priorities 
When children are amazing athletes, they may not want to focus on schoolwork. Since they are naturally gifted at throwing or hitting or serving, their desire to do other things they aren't as good at may dwindle. Discuss what is important with your kids so they understand that schoolwork comes before sports. Athletic activities can be a great way to gain skills and friends, but earning good grades is more important. This may mean your gifted children have to do homework before practice, or don't play in a game if their grades go below a certain level. Schools also keep an eye on students' grades to ensure they are performing well academically and can be cleared to play.

Encourage teamwork 
Gifted kids may have trouble working with their peers. Their high intellect can make them feel as though it's not worth their time to collaborate with students of their same age. The same rings true with talented athletes. Instead of passing the ball or running plays, your gifted kids may become a ball hog and not even acknowledge the presence of their teammates. Talk with your children about why teamwork is important. Learning this early on will greatly help your kids' academic and professional lives. Gifted children can be a great resource for other kids to learn from, and they can learn things from their peers, regardless of their intellectual levels.

Talk about the future
Does your gifted kid want to become a scientist? Or maybe a professional baseball player? Both are valid professions, but they each require different areas of focus. Gifted students don't have to know exactly what they want to be when they grow up, but following their interests can help them stay focused in school and on personal growth projects. Feed their curiosity with family field trips to museums or sports matches. Nurture both their minds and physical skills so when your kids are ready to choose between a sports career and something else, they have the skills to pursue either.

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