First, let me say, I am one of you. I have two kids, a son now 16 years of age and a daughter of 14. They both have played at least two or three sports throughout the seasons, every year since they were five or six years old.
As a coach, I am now entering my 33rd year working in youth sports and there’s a couple of life lessons I would like to share with you that will hopefully help keep perspective on the upcoming season for you and your child.
1. Although in our society “winning” is perceived to be a direct reflection of effort when a child is participating in a team sport, I have found that it is more important that we focus on their “individual effort” rather than team results. Most all team sports rely on other players to perform their skills—passing a ball, making a basket or throwing someone out at first base. This means to me, that if we measure our success on wins and losses throughout the season, it is very likely that your child will not feel that they have been successful even if they personally learned new skills, experienced competition, made new friends and had tons of fun.
2. The division or level your child plays, or their individual athletic skills and prowess, is not a direct reflection of how good you are as a a parent. Often times we feel that we are judged based on whether our kid is a good athlete or not. Although tough at times, we should remember that most of this is out of our control. Be careful of living vicariously through your child, and try not to put too much pressure on them to be successful. In my experience, it is more important that we create an environment where they can develop confidence and interest in playing the sport rather than focusing on wins and losses.
3. There are many factors that go into what level your child is placed at including maturity, experience, nature and interest. At the end of the season, it’s more important that you help your child to develop a passion so that they will want to continue to play a sport rather than losing the love of the game. Each child progresses at their own individual pace.
4. There are things we all can do to help our kids progress in youth sports, but adding pressure is not one of them. If your child has an interest in improving their skills, confidence or wants to become a better player, I suggest you look into the opportunity of skills clinics, camps and even some one-on-one training.
5. The is no direct correlation with a child playing at a higher level in their younger years and their potential growth to play at a top level later in high school or even collegiately. In fact, it has been proven that a child who plays on teams with their friends, will have the desire to continue to play that sport longer and be interested in improving their individual skills.
At the end of the day, one of the life lessons that sports teach us is that winning or losing the game is not a direct reflection of your child’s self-worth. If we, the parents, are not careful to allow them to enjoy the game for what it is, PLAY TIME, we risk taking the FUN out of it and turn it into WORK. If you want, your child to want, to continue to play sports after this season, I suggest you focus your energy on the joy of the game and your child’s individual efforts, rather than focusing on their teams wins and losses. Help them to enjoy it by focusing on their “great pass” and “great sportsmanship” and “being a good teammate.” Let them enjoy the ride.
I hope you have an amazing season.
Mason & Mia’s Dad
Founder and CEO
National Academy of Athletics