Sometimes the competition in youth sports is against another team and sometimes it is against another player on your own team.
When my oldest daughter was a high school softball catcher, there was a girl a year behind her that kept threatening to take her spot. Although she didn’t verbalize her intentions, her play said it all; she kept improving and my daughter often wondered if this girl would take over as the starting varsity catcher.
With my son, it was a quarterback a year behind him who was hungry for the starting varsity position; my son often felt the younger player breathing down his neck.
My youngest daughter was also challenged by girl a year younger who had aspirations of taking away the starting libero spot from my daughter when she played high school varsity volleyball.
My kids faced several of these intra-squad competitions throughout their years of playings sports. I remember thinking, “Gosh, if so-and-so wasn’t on the team, my child would have a much more enjoyable season.”
If so-and-so wasn’t on the team, my child would have their starting spot easily sewed up.
If so-and-so wasn’t on the team, my child wouldn’t have to fight for playing time.
If so-and-so wasn’t on the team, my child would feel much more confident.
Then again, if “so-and-so” wasn’t on the team, my children would probably not have become the quality players that went on to play in college.
The competition is good
Every single time my kids faced competition on their own team for a spot or for playing time, they were faced with a choice: Would they give up? Or would they give it their all?
Those athletes that threaten to take our kids’ spots or minimize their playing time are actually a blessing in disguise. This type of competition is good for several reasons:
- It forces our kids to step up their game.
- It helps keep our kids humble.
- It makes them appreciative of what they earn.
- It gives them sympathy for those fighting for spots around them.
- It teaches our kids persistence.
If your child has a competing teammate nipping at his heals to take his spot, encourage your kid to stay in the fight and remind him that this person is not his enemy. In fact, the pushing from a fellow team member can be the very thing that causes your child to work hard and improve, earning that starting spot and getting that playing time that he desires.
Janis Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM THINKS.
photo credit: OkiGator via photopin cc