Trainings outside of normal sports schedule

March 19, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)
Last month, a Responsible Sports Parent wrote to our panel of experts to ask:Should a high school athlete be allowed to train for sports outside of his normal already-busy school sports schedule.

Bert wrote in and asked: “There is a 16-year old 3-sport high school sophomore in our school who is interested in running a full marathon during competitive softball season. This athlete has never trained for a marathon, plays soccer, softball and runs intermediate track distance events. One of her parents is a runner who has successfully completed 3 marathons, and feels that the daughter is capable of participation without detriment to schoolwork/other interests/commitments and wishes the daughter to enter/compete in the next one. But the other parent is not a runner, and feels the daughter may not fully understand the impact of training/participation and does not want the daughter to train or participate due to commitments to high school sports teams/studies and possible wear-and-tear injuries. What would you advise?”

We asked two of our experts to weigh in.Ken Eriksen Head Coach for USA Softball Women’s National Team, weighed in and had this to say:

" A commitment to a team during it's traditional season is a tremendous undertaking if you are training properly and focusing on doing everything you can to help your team's efforts in being successful daily.

Attempting a high level physical event may leave the young person open for question about her commitment to the team. Especially if she shows fatigue or even if an injury occurs. I would advise running or even training for the marathon outside the traditional team sport seasons.”

And Tina Syer, Chief Impact Officer from Positive Coaching Alliance answered:

“I believe the parents’ role in this sort of situation is to help guide their child through a decision making process that will result in her making the best decision about whether or not to train for and compete in this marathon.

From what you’ve written, it certainly does sound like this student athlete has a full plate, but if she’s hitting her goals in the classroom, with her already existing sports commitments, and with other family obligations, then it seems she’s earned the right to add more to her plate, if she determines she’s passionate enough to do it.

As a former high school coach, I would also encourage her to talk with her softball coach. She might just go to the coach and say, “I want to talk with you about my desire to run a marathon later this spring. I realize that’s during our season, so that’s why I’m here to talk with you about it.”

If after talking with her coach, she still wants to move forward with the marathon, I’d have my daughter talk with an athletic trainer or sports medicine doctor about her training plans. They can give her specific tips on how to avoid overuse injuries – and perhaps even give your family some warning signs to keep an eye out for during training.

We talk about sports’ ability to help kids learn life lessons, and figuring out whether or not it’s the right move for her to participate in this marathon is a wonderful process for your 16-year-old to go through at this time in her life.”

Do you have a youth softball question you’d like to pose to our panel of experts?Visit us online and ask your question today! We regularly post answers on and each month we’ll feature one question here at ASA Softball.