For those of you who might happen to read the oft pointless things I have to say here and who also have little kids – be forewarned. Youth sports are a huge problem for many kids. Well, not the sports themselves. For whatever reason so many parents out there are ruining the carefree ways of childhood, and not just their own kids.
Growing up playing individual sports I often saw many kids being burdened with the weight of parental pressure. It wasn’t always associated with winning, or losing either. I was fortunate to have sponsors in my sport – and saw the right and wrong ways to take advantage of skill.
So…here’s a few lessons learned from the world of my kid’s sports lives. I suppose most of these apply to non-sports activities too (like music). They aren’t in any specific order.
- Don’t ever criticize your kid while he/she is actively participating in a game/match/etc. (At a minimum save it for a private moment)
- If it is a team sport cheer for the team not the individual, and after the game/match/etc cheer for the other team
- If it is an individual sport don’t speak negatively about the other participants in public, you never know who you are standing next to
- If your kid’s coach makes a mistake (in practice, or game/match/etc) don’t address in public, but do address it
- If your kid is unskilled to the point where they feel the pain, move on – try the next one
- Be honest with your kid…don’t let them get false hopes
- Your kid is only going to be as good as the level of effort YOU put into them (not during that particular event or season)
- Success in any sport takes spending money – don’t be fooled about the special case that is the pure-talent kid
- Do not hesitate to say no, no to other parents, coaches and organizations – no is better than a failed commitment
- Do the research on the sport/activity – make sure you know what you are getting into, and be honest to yourself about everything
- Motivation can be hard, but necessary – and there is a difference between motivating and cheering
- The more or less money it costs to play/do the sport the worse the parental problems will be, it is a bell-curve problem (and I have yet to see where the happy median is)
- Understanding the difference between pain and fear is a necessary skill for you, as a parent
- Pain is inevitable, when your kid is broken be careful to not punish them in obscure ways – but push them to recover and try again
- There is great value in being able to participate with your kid, but there is a fine line
- Don’t just drop your kid off at practice and leave – it is irresponsible and a sign that you don’t care, and they sure as hell notice
I could drop so many stories about this parent, or that coach. No point in that. But, I will tell you that the same parental problems exist in football and motocross, and on local and national levels.
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