sports parents should avoid adding pressure

In Sports, There Will Always Be Bad Days

In sports, there will be always be bad days

Sometimes there’s no explanation for a bad game or less-than-ideal performance other than the fact that it was just one of those days. This became very clear to me during my daughter’s high school senior volleyball season after one game that was pretty ugly. There was lots of mistakes and mental miscues — my coach husband calls them brain farts — and the parents just looked at each other, thinking, are they sleeping out there?

After the game, we didn’t press the issue because we’ve learned to not quiz our daughter after a loss. But it bugged me all night. What the heck happened on that court? Players who normally are consistent weren’t, mistakes that are rare were in abundance. They played totally out of character. I’m sure it drove the coach nuts.

If he’s anything like my husband-coach, he watched film and studied stats looking for some explanation. But even then the answers can still be illusive. As parents and coaches, there are times when we probably should just quit our analyzing and chalk games like that up to adolescent unpredictability. 

Didn’t I read somewhere that a teenager’s brain is not fully developed yet? Before my head hit the pillow that night after the game and before I let the troubling loss rob me of sleep, the words of an old song by The Shirelles strangely came to mind: 

Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this, Mama said.

Coaches and parents just need to know that in every sports season, we can count on the fact that there’ll be games like this — no reason, no clear explanation — where we wonder, where’s the team that won last Thursday’s game? Teenagers have an uncanny ability to forget.

As annoying as that sometimes seems, this is one instance where it is a good thing. The best thing to do when they have games like that, is to join them in their forgetfulness, help them continue to improve and learn from mistakes, and move on to a new day.

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