Seasons often begin with high expectations for both parents and players. It’s a fresh start and hope is high as everyone anticipates a chance to start anew. Having a great season should begin with everyone starting with a clean slate, but that's easier said than done. You must understand that there are some very ornery obstacles that will stand in your way if you allow them to. So, how can we stop them?
These attitudes and behaviors will stop a great season dead in its tracks:
Obstacle 1: Using playing time as the measure of success
The notion that playing time must be a priority if a child is going to get anything out of sports is not just a stumbling block to a good season, it is downright false. In fact, those seasons that your child has to fight and work hard for playing time or for a spot on the team are the ones that teach your child the most.
After 21 years of being a sports mom, I will tell you that the ultimate measuring stick of a successful season was never the playing time my kids got, it was the victories attained as they fought for that playing time, particularly so in areas like character growth and skill improvement.
At the end of the season, if your child has not had a lot of playing time, but has worked hard and learned a lot about teamwork, persistence, and hard work, are you going to chalk that season up as a waste? As unsuccessful? That assumption will leave both you and your child very frustrated.
Obstacle 2: The belief that you must push your children or they won't be successful
Although there are some constructive and good ways to encourage and “push” your kids, the kind of pushiness I’m referring to here is the overbearing parent who happens to be a control freak. Pushy parents feel as if their child's success is totally their responsibility. And when that happens, they simply don’t let up with the nagging, the pushing, the constant hovering.
The honest truth is that this attitude will make the season miserable for players, coaches, and other parents. And I’d venture to say it makes the pushy parent unhappy as well because his or her pushiness is actually a symptom of the need for control, and when one is unable to hold total control, frustration ensues.
Obstacle 3: The urge to interfere
Often times, the strongest urge that parents have is the need to fix their kids. If you could just have that talk with the coach, then your child might get to play the position she wants. If you could just get that coach fired, then maybe your child would get better playing time from another coach. If you could just pay more money for the private coaching that your child doesn’t really want, then they’d be much better players.
The ways for sports parents to interfere are endless. And while they all come from a deep desire to help children do well because you love them so, the unfortunate outcome is that your kids grow dependent on you to make things better whenever there’s a problem.
The bottom line is that you’re not doing your kids any favors by always interfering. How are they going to learn to fight their own battles if they never have a chance to practice?
Obstacle 4: A negative attitude towards the coach
Negativity is a bitter pill that affects everyone around them, so keep that in mind when you're talking during games and practices. If you are displaying a negative attitude towards your child’s coach, it will impact your child’s own attitude towards the coach. It will stir up other parents on the team and it certainly does not help the coach do her job any better.
You don’t have to like the coach as a person and you don’t have to agree with his strategy of coaching, but be an adult and learn to do what’s best for your child, the team, the coach, and the other parents by keeping your opinions to yourself.
Obstacle 5: An over-glorified view of the score
I love to win. In fact, I don’t know anyone that likes to lose. After all, winning is fun and is the reason for competition. And the higher up in sports you go, the more important it becomes. It is the driving force for all professional, college, and high school teams and influences every decision they make.
But in youth sports, winning is not the only goal. It is certainly one of the goals, but an over-glorified view of winning in youth sports causes problems. It makes parents go crazy, causes coaches to compromise on things that are not the best for the players, and can distract the players from learning things about life that are just as important, if not more important, than a winning score.
Winning that compromises on integrity is not really winning at all.
Have you run into any of these obstacles yet? The good news is that they are roadblocks that you can control. It is within your power to help make this a great season or your young athlete.