It’s getting warm again and you’re probably gearing up for a summer of vacation and youth sports. Whether you have kids who are on the travel ball clubs or enjoy the recreation league, your role as the parent is the same.
Why Put Your Kids in Youth Sports?
Why not? Even if your child isn’t the most athletic, it’s a great way for them to get some exercise, learn how to work as a team (unless it’s an individual sport), and learn other life lessons like diligence and perseverance.
We’ve talked about our kids and sports and Max just wrote about supporting your kids in their passions. The thing I want to point out is that not only do we want them to try out sports but to be more diverse and well-rounded. I would love for them to learn an instrument, or act or do something different that will make them happy.
Let’s talk about how you as a parent can be awesome and supportive when your kids are playing.
Let the coach actually coach
You’ve heard the buzz about parents losing their cool over a missed call or another parent at a youth game. The biggest problem is that parents usually question everything the coach does, thinking they can do better. It can be hard to see your child on the bench or in a position they are uncomfortable with but there are small learning opportunities built into those situations.
It can help your child learn how to talk to the coach and ask what they can do to improve so they can get more playing time. Maybe the coach sees the potential for your child in that position more than the one he/she is accustomed to. Encourage them to talk to the coach and if needed, be the back up for the conversation.
I remember a practice when my coaches had everyone work on outfielding skills for softball. Being an infielder, I figured I didn’t need to learn how to be an outfielder. Little did I know it would give me the chance to play more on my college team as I would switch off between right field and pitching.
Also, don’t be a coach from the sidelines if you aren’t the coach. Don’t make your child choose between listening to you and the coach. You can give simple reminders but to badger, or constantly yell throughout the game will embarrass your child and make it so they don’t want to play at all.
If you don’t like what a coach does for your child, take the time to be the coach. Even if you didn’t play professionally, there are so many tutorials and drills online that can help you feel competent and increase the development of the kids.
Remember it’s not the World Series, Stanley Cup, Superbowl, etc
It sounds funny but it’s true. Games and tournaments, while we would love to see our child succeed, are not life or death. They aren’t the time to put all the pressure on your child and make them feel like a failure if they mess up.
Don’t let the pressure of the moment cloud your judgment and cause you to say things your child will never unhear. When there is pressure is the time you should show the most unconditional love, so that your child will know you will ALWAYS love him/her no matter what the outcome.
Any game played should be done with sportsmanship, and that doesn’t just go for the players. Parents need to instill this in their children and it won’t happen if you are happy at another player’s injury or are teaching your children to play dirty.
Of course, we want our kids to do well, to see that big grin on their face when they score the winning shot. But it’s not worth sacrificing your dignity as a parent and showing the wrong example to your family.
Think of each game as a learning experience
How many things have you done perfectly on the first try in your life? I’m pretty sure the number is 0 for myself and that’s something to remember.
It’s amazing what practice can do to help you get better. What’s more than that, game situations further that even more. Children need reminders of how the game goes and while it might seem like a good idea to let them know during the game, it might be more effective to talk about it after.
Ask your child, “What should you do?” in certain situations, even if it didn’t happen to your child. As long as you don’t make it seem like they are an awful player because of their mistakes, this conversation can bring you even closer to them. Being close to your kids is an awesome benefit to helping your child learn about many life skills.
Support Your Kids in the sport or activity they love
Like I said earlier, Max wrote a great post on this. Basically, let your child choose their interest or sport. As much as you want them to participate in something that gives you great memories, it will never mean as much to them if they don’t love it as well. Give them that chance and dive in, learning the rules and how best to help them.
Take the time to practice with them
It is obvious when seeing many kids play whether they practice or not. The best way for your child to excel is to help them practice, even if it’s for a few minutes each day.
You can’t expect them to improve from game to game if they don’t get more chances to practice when they are outside of it.
The key to this is remembering that they are young. Don’t make them practice for hours on end, even if they want to. Find the balance for you and your family so that you may do other things as well.
Realize the truth about your child’s abilities
You want to see the best in your child and you want them to be the best on the team or the fastest, etc. But do your best to see the true abilities your child possesses. If he isn’t the best, push him to work harder to strengthen weaknesses.
There is nothing more crippling to a child’s development than by lying to them about where they’re at. Celebrate improvement and help them understand where they can improve. As contrary as it may seem, because building self-esteem is important, you want your children to trust your judgment and your advice.
Teach them that it’s okay to mess up and that it’s good to keep trying.
Although many reviews of this movie were disappointing, Disney’s Cloud 9 had some great lessons with this. Dove Cameron played the main character, who thought she was the best girl snowboarder around. She finds out later that even her own father didn’t think she was very good, which drives her to become better.
Lies keep us from progressing, keep us from working harder to become better. Give your child the support to achieve the heights they can, to reach their potential and keep on reaching.
Remember it’s about fun
It’s so easy to forget the fun of the game. It’s the reason you put your kids into youth sports. Don’t let competition and ego conquer that fun. Don’t live your dreams through your kids. It will only suck the fun out of it.
What do you do to become an awesome parent during youth sports?
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