YOUTH SPORTS AND MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE:
I was an athlete that competed at National level. I am also a Coach, and I have two children of my own. Both compete at the highest level for their country, with many accolades behind their names. Yes, I was their coach too, for a long time, until they had to move on to national coaching. In the years that I have been, and still am in sports, I have seen so many parents that have no clue.
I say this straight and to the point because it is true. Parents obviously want the best for their kids, and parents in sports want them to be champions, the best, standing on the podium. Whether you are a seasoned parent with children already on the podium, a new parent with these aspirations, or a parent that want to go to the next level. Periodically you will make mistakes, I know because I made them. Should you keep on making these mistakes, ultimately your child will quit.
THESE ARE SOME OF THE COMMON MISTAKES PARENTS MAKE:
TAKING YOUTH SPORTS WAY TOO SERIOUS:
- Please do not treat your child as if he or she is a professional sportsperson, there must be room to grow, make mistakes, enjoy the game, and build their skills. Parents putting too much pressure on a child, deprive their children of this experience.
- The youth years of a child’s physical development is supposed to be about athletic development. Participate in as many sports as possible.
- The parent that knows better than the coach. The parent that will tell the child exactly what the coach should have done. There is a special bond between a child and his/her coach, do not be the one to break that bond.
- The parent that shows out every little mistake that the child has made on the field. The poor child can never do anything right in his or her parent’s eyes.
COMPARING THEIR CHILD TO OTHER CHILDREN OR SPORTS PEOPLE:
- Parents tend to compare their children to the kid that just hit a home-run. Remarks like, “Did you see how Josh or Jen played or practiced today, why don’t you play like that?” is used all too often. The other side is saying something like: “do you think that Usain Bolt ever played during a practice?” Well, I bet he did.
- Comparing your child to other children or professional sports people is really not helping their self-confidence. It will also not flip that switch to improve in the way that you think it would.
PARENTS PUSHING THEIR CHILDREN TO DO WHAT THEY WERE NEVER ABLE TO DO:
Oh, the age old one; the parent that never achieved anything himself, and now want their children to do it. They push their children to achieve all the things they never could. The sad part is that they usually use some kind of excuse like, “I was never pushed, that is why I did not achieve”. Parent, you had your chance in sport, do not re-live yourself through your child.Please do not push down your dreams of what you wished you could, or should have achieved, onto your children.
THE CAR RIDE HOME PARENT:
- This is the parent that screams and shouts all the way home. The parent that tells the child exactly why he lost, how he lost, and how everything went wrong.
- This is also the parent that tells the child what should have happened where and when in the competition or practice.
- Children start fearing that car ride home every-time something goes wrong. Yes, sir, your child knows that something went wrong, and believe me he or she already feels bad about it.
THE OVER INVOLVED PARENT:
- Although it’s great, and it should be this way, that a parent should be involved, there is something like too much.
- When you are taking over every aspect of your child’s sports career, and when you start planning his life and social life, then you are too involved.
- When you start planning his sports career and are involved in every aspect of his sport, from coaching to management.
- There is a fine line between being involved, and too involved, give the child room to breathe.
Most parents have good intentions when enrolling their children into sports. Parents that make mistakes are not bad parents. They just lost perspective, they were sucked into an unhealthy perspective of the sport. It might be by the rising pressure of winning or receiving that scholarship no matter what. It is natural to want something special to come from your child’s sport. However, you need to be careful not to fall into the trap that winning is everything, or pushing your child in such a way, that he or she has an unbalanced life.
Mark Hyman a professor of sports management at George Washington University and the Author of several books on youth sports says the biggest problem in youth sports are the parents. “The adults have won,” Hyman said. “If we wiped the slate clean and reinvented youth sports from scratch by putting the physical and emotional needs of kids first, how different would it look? Nothing would be recognizable.”
Luckily, on the other hand, there is hope. If you recognize yourself in any of these statements, then stop! You cannot change the past, but you are able to change the way that you behave going forward. Do not deprive your child of the pleasure of participating in sports. I am talking about the real pleasure without the pressure.
Enjoy your child in Sport