By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Monday, August 27, 2018
Every Monday and inside each issue of Splash Magazine, I answer questions from swimmers around the country. If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently moved away from my hometown this year for school. I was still pretty close to my practice location but it was about a 20 to 30 minute drive. Since I was starting middle school, after school sports were an option. I decided to take a chance and try some. But as I got further and further into the year attending swim practice was getting harder and harder. Then when I started doing track I realized that I started to fall in love with running, but I still was in love with swimming and still am. I want to keep swimming, but I am afraid that my skills are weak and everyone else has been advancing so fast that I am afraid of falling behind by a lot. What do I do? How can I fix this?
Stuck Between Two Sports
Picking a sport is like choosing a major in college: It helps to study different subjects beforehand. Then you have an idea which subjects you’re most interested in.
Here’s my advice:
When I entered high school, I stopped playing soccer and began swimming year-round. It was my decision. I loved soccer, but I felt it was time to pick one sport and be the best at that sport I could be. So, I chose competitive swimming.
Everyone’s different. Other friends played multiple sports until graduation. “I’d burn-out if I only swam,” my soccer-playing and track-running friends told me. They played soccer in the fall and swam in the winter. Others swam in the winter and ran in the spring. Playing multiple sports balanced them.
There may be a time when you feel like you should choose one sport. Is that time now? I’m not sure. It sounds like you love both sports. Sometimes, it helps to envision a long-term “Ultimate Sports Goal” — “What do you want to accomplish by the time you graduate high school?” — then work your way backwards and figure out how to get there. But since you’re still in middle school, you have plenty of time. Pay close attention to your body and to your heart. After some time, if you’re not on pace to achieve your Ultimate Sports Goal, maybe then you’ll want to make changes.
But right now, don’t fret. You’re trying sports out, gaining experience, seeing what sticks. Just like you shouldn’t only study one subject your entire life, you probably shouldn’t only do one sport your entire life. It’s good to take a few art classes, learn about European history, or recite some Shakespeare along the way.
You may never know what you’ll truly love until you try — so keep trying, keep going, and don’t feel like you must choose one sport over the other right now.
And most importantly: Don’t worry how your friends progress. Everyone is different. Don’t make choices based on what other people are doing. Make choices based on what you think is best for you.
I hope this helps.
If you have a question, please email email@example.com.