Consider this my first mobile post published on Maternal Media. I’m reporting live from a sports field in middle America, but I imagine this same scene is unfolding across the country.
Sunday youth football league.
Here are a few top-of-mind reminders for everyone out there who knows and loves youth athletes.
1. Some of these kids will leave their sports careers behind by the time they exit grade school. If you, as a parent or coach, could predetermine whether or not a kid’s love of the game would end this year/this game/this play, would you behave any differently?
2. Yes, your job is to teach kids the game. But the truly great mentors teach kids so much more about sports that can be applied off the field.
3. It feels AMAZING when your kid makes the big play. Big plays come and go. Character continues on. So celebrate the little things – helping an opposing player up, constantly hustling, being a leader when times are tough – as much as the big, obvious accomplishments.
4. Don’t let a game make or break your mood. How you react to wins and losses is how your kid will react to triumphs and adversities throughout their formative years.
5. Don’t let a referee’s action or inaction be the excuse for flipping your sh*t. Do you have a clue as to what those guys get paid? Trust me, they don’t take on this role for the money or prestige. They are human and, as such, will make mistakes.
6. No matter what mom or dad yells from the sidelines, kids will only play as hard as their hearts are into it. No amount of yelling or chest thumping will motivate them. Quite the contrary, your huge smile and a simple thumbs up will mean more to him than you know…because…amazingly…
7. Your kid only wants to make you and his coach happy. While you worry about mortgage payments and getting through your work week, your son’s list of priorities is much simpler…but no less important.
8. When the last whistle is blown, hug your child and tell him how extremely proud you are of his effort. Do this no matter if he scores the game-winning touchdown or does something that costs his team the game. Believe me, he knows if he screwed up. You don’t need to belabor the point.
9. If your child looks like he’s not having any fun, remind him that life is more than touchdowns and tackles. If your child looks like he’s having a blast, never forget to remind him to be thankful for this special time in his life.
10. Watch the movie Rudy. Keep perspective.
Written by Heidi Woodard
So many great reminders here! Everybody involved in youth sports should read this.
I just finished watching Rudy on tv for the second time this weekend. I tear up every time I see all of Rudy’s teammates, the starters, turn in their jerseys and tell the coach they want Rudy to dress in their place. When the coach tells the first player who turns in his jersey not to be ridiculous, he’s an All-American and the team captain – act like it, and the player replies, “I believe I am.” Oh, that gets me every time! Earning the respect of your fellow teammates through your hard work and dedication to the team, regardless of your athletic ability, and conversely, learning to respect others for their work ethic is one of the greatest lessons in sports and in life.
“I believe I am.” Such a simple yet profound statement. The concept of team being greater than any one standout athlete. Thanks for the comment.
Great post, Heidi. My kids are just now beginning to participate in sports and I keep thinking about what an old sports editor shared with me years ago. He really didn’t think youth sports should keep track of points. In his mind, until an athlete was in high school, all that should matter is whether the child was having fun and if he or she was developing a love for the game.
That is an interesting thought. To me, the practice of keeping score doesn’t have to include feelings of either superiority or inadequacy. It’s how we “adults” teach our kids to feel about scores. Everyone is going to lose many, many times in life. Does that mean we should be embarrassed or ashamed? No. It means we take it as a lesson on what didn’t work and move forward with an understanding on how to try to make it better. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.
I saw some interesting things during my soccer mom days. you just have to be encouraging and let the coaches coach. i know many a kid who quit because their parents put too much pressure on them
If I caused my kid to want to quit because of putting too much pressure on him/her, I feel like my penance should be to bury my head deep down into the sand like an ostrich.
I really like this post, to encourage enjoyment of a sport is the best thing you can do. Unless you are planning to make your kid go pro (not advocating this) better to encourage good sportsmanship and a love of the game 🙂
How many pro players do you imagine had parents who knew their kid was destined to go pro? I recall reading an article that quoted a handful of professional athletes who said the single best thing their parents repeatedly said to them was “I love watching you play.” This proves to me that support means more than tough love…when it comes to elite athletes.