When players are between the ages of 11 and 14 they hit a new level as players. It is the first time that players really get noticed by coaches, other players and other parents for their talent and skills… or for their apparent lack of it. This makes rugby for teenagers an exceptionally challenging phase.
The sad reality is that at this age the kids showing the most promise usually get the most attention from the coaches and players around them. It is unfair to the players who are still developing and who might very well get to a competitive level later in their teens or only after finishing school.
Your job as a parent during this time differs slightly depending on whether your child is either showing a lot of promise or lagging behind their peers.
If the child shows promise playing teenage rugby
Everyone enjoys the attention that comes with success. We want to see our kids succeed and there is nothing wrong with that.
When this happens we need to stay realistic about expectations and not stop supporting the continued development of all aspects of their game. It is so important that rugby for teenagers often result in them loving the sport for the rest of their lives or leaving the sport.
Your child might possess some natural athletic ability and skills, which will serve them well during this time. If the overall skills development is not taken into consideration, the child is highly likely to start struggling after 14 years of age when the other kids catch up.
If your child is not the star of the team
Kids develop at vastly different rates throughout their teen years. If a child is not the star of the team it is often very disappointing to them. They want to get the cheers and they want to make you proud.
Even though they might despair there is definitely no reason for them to give up the sport. It is actually extremely important that you continue to develop their respective skills.
Skills are picked up by most people through repetition. So the skills needed to play rugby can be picked up by continually working at it. Consistency is the key to rugby for teenagers.
Many children would also only reach a high level of athleticism in their later teen years. If they focused on their skills development they would suddenly start to blossom and it often happens that they surpass kids who were the stars in their early teens.
What is key with rugby for teenagers to ensure continued growth?
It is becoming time to hand over the reins to their coaches for the most part. They need to become comfortable playing as a team and to get some structure to their game.
They will also come up with different games at school that they will play with friends, which would be part of building them up as players. Rugby for teenagers that are still under 14 is tricky business, but you should never stop them from enjoying all types of games and activities.
As a parent there are two parts that you can stay actively involved in:
- Continue working on basic skills of passing and catch. There can NEVER be too much of it
- Support their mental development. Keep encouraging them no matter what the circumstances are. They need it more than you think