As most people know, star athletes are few and far between. Many parents dream of their kids being star athletes or believe their child is one. In reality, athletic success ends for most youth players at an early age. Most kids are average players who often experience as much disappointment as they do athletic success. It is important that parents understand that reality when their kids begin playing youth sports. Parents with this sport perspective will have the patience necessary so their childs playing days are the positive experience that sports should be.
Without this sport perspective and patience, disappointment and frustration can easily set in and a young athletes season or career can be ruined if sport parents panic when their kids struggle in sports. I have seen many youth athletes give up playing sports because of the lack of parental and coaching patience and perspective. However, I have witnessed many players reach their potential, while having fun, when parents and coaches show good sport perspective and patience.
Parents who do not display this patience and perspective create tensions with their kids that often lead to regrets later in life. Parents who understand that all athletes endure disappointing performances often in sport, even the great athletes, have the correct perspective that helps kids mature into positive, mature adults. Additionally, parents, who help players get through the tough times without creating undue tensions, feel good about themselves and their positive role model status. Here are ten tips that adults can use to help youth athletes to avoid excessive pressures and tensions.
Sports parents and coaches should:
1. Encourage kids to have long-range goals so they dont feel overwhelming pressure to do well each and every game. For example, striving to make the high school team in the future is a good goal. This lets kids know that they dont have to be a star immediately and if they continue working at their skills, making the high school team is a realistic goal. Short-term goals are fine as long as they are general ones that involve their effort level, as opposed to goals that involve performance numbers. For example, having the goal of improving as the season progresses and of working hard are good goals, where trying to reach certain statistics often leads to disappointment that hinder future motivation.
2. Not show own frustration over their players performance in front of them. Stay as upbeat as possible and cry away from everyone, if parents feel the need to let out their own emotions.
3. Give kids a few days totally away from the sport during a rough stretch, if possible,and keep the talk about the sport to a minimum during this time. Encourage kids to hang out with friends and to continue to have activities that do not involve the sport.
4. Tell hard working players that their hard work will show up in their results sooner or later, and remind not so hard workers that success only comes with practice.
5. Remind players that you alwaysbelieve in them and that they are so much more than what they do on a playing field.
6. Remind them of times they (athletes) did well, after a player has had a little time to get over their disappointment. Doing this immediately after a tough outing is not advised because they will not want to hear it right then.
7. Have a bloopers tape on hand to watch. This can provide some laughs and help players realize everyone makes mistakes, even the great players.
8. Try to get players to smile or laugh when on the playing field by using a little humor. This canrelieve tension and help athletes understand that they should not take the game and themselves too serious. An occasional funny line can ease the situation. Also, having a coach who is not very skillful demonstrate a skill can sometimes create humor. Their failure can create a laugh or two for players.
9. Point out little things where the player improved or contributed. False praise – statements that are obviously inaccurate for the situation – is not good but honest appraisal, said in a positive way, is good.
10. Learn to say, Forget about it or hang in there to your kids after a tough game. Recognizing great effort is always a good thing, even when success doesn’t occur.
Finally, nothing works better to lift a childs spirits than a pat on the back and a big smile, win or lose. Sport parents and youth coaches who apply these tips will help kids learn to keep athletic success and disappointment in the proper sport perspective.