Sports Academies

Many boarding schools offer a variety of sports programs. Some even actively recruit talented athletes and offer scholarships in sports like basketball and football.

Sports academies are boarding schools that offer intense training in one sport only. These are designed for athletically talented young people who want to become professional athletes, play on top college teams, or even pursue Olympic dreams.

You can find American private sports academies specializing in tennis, golf, ice-skating, or snow sports. Boarding schools in other parts of the world specialize in soccer, skiing, gymnastics, and other sports. Many offer short-term summer programs that are a good way to try them out before you enroll your child full-term.

PROS
High school students in sports academies have access to the latest equipment. They work with the finest coaches, often "big name" or Olympic level. The curriculum includes subjects like sports psychology and mental training, nutrition, first aid, fitness training, and skill development. Professional counselors help graduates enter colleges with top athletic programs in their sport.

A typical day involves not only a full load of academic classes, but also general fitness training and skills training in the sport of choice. Students have the boarding school advantages of small class sizes and excellent faculty. They save themselves and their parents many hours per week by not having to drive to ice rinks, tennis matches, etc. Enrolling in a sports academy may actually cut down on your child's injuries because professionals run the program.

In today's competitive world of sports, even average players have to specialize to win a spot on ordinary high school teams. Even children under ten years are already training year-round in one sport, spending summers and breaks at sports camps.

CONS The American Academy of Pediatrics has come down hard on the over-training of young athletes. Doctors point to the fact that girls' growth plates are not fully closed until ages 14 to 16; in boys, it's even later: ages 16 to 18 years. The Academy advises parents not to allow children to specialize in one sport because of the danger of "repetitive injuries." For example, a Little League pitcher can be prone to repetitive injuries to elbows and arms, which can cause permanent damage.

Child psychologists are against pushing a child into an athletic specialty too early because it takes away from his or her chance to develop fully in other areas of interest and to enjoy recreation and play time. By allowing your child to become too focused too early, you may set your child up for neurosis later on.

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