This fall my daughter decided not to play soccer but to try field hockey instead. She had never picked up a field hockey stick in her life and was joining in with kids who had already played before.
She was so excited to try something new and couldn’t wait to get the new gear that she would need to play. We went to the local Olympia Sports where they fitted her for field hockey stick (incorrectly the first time, whoops!), she picked out a fluorescent yellow and black one-“Yellow is my favorite color,” she exclaimed! We then picked out shin guards (they are different from soccer ones), a bag for her field hockey stick and a pink mouthguard. Our next stop was the local rec center to pick up her uniform. Now things felt official. She was going to be a part of a team!
The first day of practice her mood was reserved. In the car she told me, “it feels like I have a thousand butterflies.” That’s when the questions started, “What if I am the only one who hasn’t played before? What if I don’t know what to do?” I reassured her, even if you are the only one who is new the coaches will show you what to do, and the other girls will help you out. When we got to the field she timidly exited the car and headed over to the group of players. I introduced her to the coaches and then it was up to her what would happen next. The coaches instructed the girls to warm-up so they ran around the field and did some stretching and dynamic warm-ups. With the other girls leading my daughter jumped in and followed along as best as she could. During drills she followed along and tried her hardest. When they scrimmaged she worked hard to know her place on the field and watched the other girls for cues on what to do.
As the season progressed my daughter became less timid on the field. She wanted to practice when she was at home. In games she learned how to be aggressive and to go after the ball. She learned to challenge her competition. She learned how to pass the ball to her teammates. Her excitement for the sport grew as the season progressed and she was sad when it was over.
What we can learn about beginning as a runner by watching our kids try new sports.
As I watched my daughter play throughout the season I realized that what she was experiencing is what we all go through when we begin something new. What she was experiencing applies to getting started with running.
Here are some tips for the newbie runner for getting started:
- Get some new gear. If you want to feel like a runner when you are starting out get some new sneakers or a new running outfit that will get you excited to get started and make you feel like a runner.
- Join a group. There are so many options nowadays for running groups both in person and virtual. By joining a group you will immediately have a team of runners who you can learn from and talk to as you are getting started. These other runners will be your guides and your cheerleaders (and you enablers (haha!) when it comes to signing up for races.)
- It’s ok to feel nervous. Whenever you start something new those butterflies are real . . . as I once heard you just need to teach them to fly in formation . . . we all get nervous starting new things and that is ok!
- Listen to the experienced runners. When you are starting out with running it is helpful to talk with people who are runners or even a coach to figure out what you should be doing to get started and to have it go well. Other runners can give you tips and tricks for what to wear or what kinds of runs to do when you get started.
- Challenge yourself by signing up for a race. By signing up for a race you will have a goal for yourself to work towards just like having a game to play in. At races you will learn how to push yourself harder
What have you learned about doing something new by watching your child learn something new? What tips do you have for the new runner?
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