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If your athlete plays a sport long enough, they will have to play against their good friends, whether it be a school team or in recreation or club sports. What’s that like locking in battle with a pal? Seeing a friend on the other side can leave an athlete with mixed emotions. They want to compete and win but it’s hard to block out what the friend is thinking and going through at the same time.

To set a positive tone, players could send friendly texts back and forth acknowledging what’s going to take place. Maybe one team is better than the other and jealousy or anxiety sets in. Your child needs to battle those thoughts before the game and focus on playing their best and not worry endlessly about the outcome.

When the teenage hormones start creeping in, keeping a cool head gets a bit more difficult. My son has played against good friends in soccer and hockey. He tries to find a way to say hello before before the clock starts. Things might get heated when they are both on the court, field or rink at the same time, but there is an added sense of respect between them because of their relationship away from sports. If there is a testy situation during game play, he tries hard to leave it on the field. Afterwards, it is important to seek out the friend and talk a bit exchanging “good game” back and forths.

You can find great examples of friends playing against each other in the pros. Often they will exchange jerseys after a matchup. In some cases, one player may outshine their friend with a more illustrious career but they still remain pals. Sometimes friendships begin on the sports field and other times it’s at school or with other groups. It’s all about perspective, the game may last 60 minutes but a friendship can last a lifetime.