You know what stinks?  Is the athlete that has a growth spurt later in life, when he no longer can play organized sports and take advantage of his new-found maturity.  Whether an athlete is too short or too small, this can become not only a physical limitation, but an emotional one as the athlete can’t handle being smaller than the other athletes.

Depending on an athlete’s situation, if they have a desire to be good at a sport, there’s always the chance that the athlete will succeed in spite of his/her stature.  A lot of times though, life hands them a raw deal and when that growth spurt happens they have either quit the sport or are in college living life.

My cousin’s kid was someone in this situation.  He was a good athlete that played football and basketball, but was small in size.  Looking at his parents, you were hoping he would grow, sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, he was at a big school and instead of playing the sport and riding the bench or possibly not making the team, he quit both sports.  He moved on to tennis and had a nice little career.  He also did get his growth spurt, but it was later in high school.  Who’s to say what he could have done had that growth spurt happened earlier.  Maybe he would have stuck with basketball (his first love) and make some lasting memories for himself.

Is it a growth disorder?

That is always a possibility.  Maybe something is wrong with the pituitary gland causing some issues with the body.  A doctor can determine those things with a few tests.

If there is a disorder, some parents opt for the route of giving human growth hormone to children.  If the pituitary gland is malfunctioning, it might not be producing enough growth hormone to help the child grow at a normal rate.

Most HGH treatments are safe, but not all kids respond positively to them.  Meaning, not all kids start growing.  They can also be costly and doctors usually won’t recommend it unless the child is predicting to max out at a very short height.

Like I said, doctors can determine if there is a growth disorder with some tests, but 9 times out of 10 there is nothing wrong with the athlete.  Just maturing later than the other kids.

How can my child grow faster?

I really can’t give you a great answer to that.  Generally, your growth patterns are genetic so remember how fast you matured and that can be a guideline.  The heights of the parents will be a clue as to how tall the kid will get.  Unfortunately, you can’t rush it.

Patience is the key!

As a parent, what you can do is put your child in the best position to succeed as an athlete.  If they like a particular sport, be supportive and encouraging even when it is clearly frustrating to your child that the other kids are faster or stronger than he/she.  Nothing can compare to heart.

If your child loves the sport, help him/her through the tough times and cheer on the successes.  My backup on the basketball team my senior year was a 5′ 8″ freshman, who couldn’t run, couldn’t jump, wasn’t quick, but could shoot the lights out of the ball.

He took a lot of razzing that year, so much that he transferred out of the school once basketball season was over.  A shame really.  He went on to have a great career at another school and grew to 6′ 4″.  He could have packed it in as a freshman, when there were clearly other kids physically more mature than him, but he didn’t.

Jacoby Jones, the receiver for the Baltimore Ravens who is a finalist on Dancing With The Stars.  was 5′ 7″ and 160 pounds when he graduated high school.  He went to a college where he could run track and play football because he loved the sports.  He had a huge growth spurt his freshman year and now he’s like 6′ 2″ and 220 pounds.

He too could have given up, but his heart was bigger than his whole body.  Eventually, his body caught up and he went on to shine.  If you are a slow grower, be patient and ask yourself, “how much do you love your sport?”  If the answer is a whole heck of a lot, then find a way to persevere.  When that growth spurt happens, you’ll be shocked at what you will accomplish.

Photo courtesy of  jdanvers’ on Flickr