We all think our kids are the best. It’s parental instinct. And quite honestly, we should be biased when it comes to our children. But there is a time when you should override your prejudices and face reality, and one of those times is when you are looking at your child’s sports abilities.
Very few parents can objectively evaluate their child’s ability in sports unless they’ve played or coached the sport themselves. We are hard-wired to respond emotionally to our child’s performance much differently than we respond to another child’s performance. Sometimes the truth lies in the fact that current performance is not a true indicator of future performance. Many young athletes excel because they are a little older, stronger and faster than their peers. After puberty, these differences tend to even out, and many elite athletes no longer possess the advantages that made them great at 11 or 12.
Check the signs–are you overestimating your child’s skills?
Sign 1: Your child constantly struggles with little improvement. If your child works and sees little to no improvement, this doesn’t mean he shouldn’t play sports, it just means that he may not be as gifted as you think. To get a clear picture of your child’s progress, measure skill improvement in tangible ways.
Sign 2: You don’t agree with your child’s coaches about his ability. When more than one or two experienced coaches concludes that your child doesn’t have the athletic ability to play a certain position or even to make a team, it’s because they see something that you do not see.
Sign 3: Other parents don’t agree with you either. It was hard for me to admit my kids’ weaknesses in sports, but I was pretty objective about other players and could admit when one was particularly gifted. If your child does possess talent, I guarantee that other parents will bring it up without you saying a word.
Sign 4: Teammates don’t recognize it. If your child is a skilled athlete, his teammates will most likely acknowledge it. Respecting him is another matter. He must earn that himself.
If you are overestimating your child’s abilities when it comes to youth sports, it’s really not such a bad thing. But when that overestimation drives you to push, control and manipulate your child’s sports experience because you feel he’s not getting a fair shake, then maybe it’s time to take a second look, this time without the rose-colored glasses. If you think your child is really special, get a qualified, independent evaluator (not your private trainer or coach) to give you the truth.