Is your child playing on a team where he is competing against another player for a starting sport or for playing time? All three of my kids faced this situation at various times in middle and high school. My oldest daughter had a girl competing with her for her catching spot, my son had another QB trying to take his position from him, and my youngest daughter had another girl who desperately wanted her starting libero spot. All three of those competing teammates caused my kids many anxious moments. And all three of them made my kids better players. If your child finds himself competing with another teammate for a position or for playing time in a certain spot, you can turn this challenge into a very positive experience. Here’s how:
- Teach respect. No matter what you or your child thinks of the competing teammate, set the example of talking about him and treating him respectfully. None of this “you’re-better-than-him” or “you-should-be-playing-over-him” talk.
- Help your child determine what improvements are needed. If your child is frustrated and wants your assistance, help him figure out what exactly he needs to work on to improve his skills and reach his playing goals. Perhaps he could ask the coach what his weaknesses are and work on improving in those areas.
- Encourage extra effort. If your child wants something badly, he will have to work for it. This may mean extra time in the weight room, at the batting cages, in speed training, or however “extra effort” looks for him in his chosen sport. Relentlessly pushing your child is not necessary; but providing support and opportunities for him as he seeks to improve his skills may be enough of a “push” to help him reach his goals.
- Reinforce sportsmanship. This is a great opportunity for your child to learn what being on a team is really all about. It is not about him playing the position he wants; it is not about her getting the playing time she things she deserves. Being on a team means putting the team above the individual’s desires. This is a lesson your child may have to learn over and over again as he plays sports. Be sure you emphasize teamwork repeatedly.
Remember, that competing teammate is not the enemy. I’m sure that all three of my kids initially viewed their competition as “the enemy,” but it didn’t take long for them to realize that in fact, those teammates were a blessing in disguise. Their competition pushed all three of my kids to be better athletes.