How to Keep From Over-thinking Your Kids’ Sports Experience
Youth sports would be much more enjoyable for parents and athletes alike if you could stop over-thinking and over-analyzing every game and practice. Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Don’t think too much. You’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.” Parents are really good at creating problems that aren’t even problems yet. And this is especially true in youth sports, which has enough challenges without those you create by over-thinking.
I know all about over-thinking because I was a professional worrier as I watched my kids play sports all through elementary, middle and high school, and college. I know that over-thinking does not help your kids play better. It does not help you parent better. It only robs you of sleep, takes away your appetite, and drives your friends and family crazy. Over-thinking is done out of love. You want the best for your kids.
You want them to succeed. You want them to feel good about themselves. So you think and you worry and you try to understand the situation, in hopes of coming up with answers that will help them achieve those results. But over-thinking never works, so the best thing I can tell you is: just stop doing it.
However, I also know how hard it is to stop doing it, so here’s some suggestions to help you stay off the over-thinking roller coaster because once you are on, it’s very hard to get off.
Don’t try to figure out the coach
Every coach is different and every coach has reasons for what he does. You will probably never understand those reasons because you are not with the team for hours and hours each week. Don’t torture yourself with questions like “Why did he pull her out?” or “What did he mean when he said that to my son?” The only person who should be asking himself--or the coach-- those questions is your athlete.
It’s okay to relive amazing moments in your kids’ performances if you are truly just enjoying the memory. But if you are looking for answers, you will be like the hamster on the wheel who goes over and over the same ground and gets nowhere. Instead of mentally replaying moments that fill you with questions, put the memory away and focus on something else, like what to have for dinner or how to handle your boss.
Don’t make the molehill a mountain
The coach, your kid, and your kid’s teammates will make mistakes. In fact, the nature of sports is that the team that makes the least mistakes usually wins. Don’t give mistakes more attention than they deserve. Conflicts will arise on the team, kids will say things to each other, coaches will get mad--all these are the molehills of sports. You may be tempted to make mountains out of them because you think you need to fix things, which leads to my last thought...
Don’t try to fix everything
That’s not your job as a parent. Your job is to love, support, and guide--not fix everything. In fact, you can’t fix everything. One of the reasons you over-think is that you are looking for answers to help fix things for your child. Once you realize that fixing everything is not only an exercise in futility, but it is also not the best thing for your child, once you learn to let things go, you will be free from over-analyzing your child’s youth sports experiences.
If you are an over-thinker like I am, you will probably always be battling that temptation. But understanding why you do and how you can break that habit is something that you really should think about--a lot.