Start now to help your child set goals in youth sports

By Janis Meredith | Posted 2/16/2015

Parenting your young athlete through his youth sports experience should not be done randomly. Start now to help your child set goals. 

What those goals are depends solely on your child, on his desires, on his dreams and on his skills. Combine his desires with a dose of parental realism – deeming what goals are worthy and realistic – and you have just given yourself a basis for all decisions to be made in youth sports.

Let’s do a for-instance. Let’s say your middle school child wants to play basketball in high school. He sees those tall boys playing to a packed house on Friday nights, and he wants to do the same thing when he gets older. 

That goal can direct daily decisions your child makes each day.

  • Should I go shoot some baskets in the driveway?
  • I want to find a summer camp that will teach me some more basketball skills. 

That goal also can direct parenting decisions made each day.

  • I think that summer camp is worth the money if it will help him improve his shooting.
  • Driving across town so he can practice with that traveling team is worth it.

Or let’s say your goal for your child is just to have fun and get exercise. Then let that goal shape the decisions you and he make regarding his time.

This is not to say that everything your child does in his life has to be to achieve his sports goal. It is just a way to help narrow down and make choices when there are many to choose from.

My older brother once gave me some wise parenting advice. He said, “Spend money on your kids if it is an investment in the direction you want them to go.”

That applies to setting goals, too. Spend time, money and resources if they are investments that will help your child reach his goals.

We sat down with each of our kids when they were in late middle school or early high school and asked, “Do you want to play in college?”

All three answered yes, to which we responded, “Then be sure every decision you make now about your sport is made with that goal in mind.”

Goals should not be made to intimidate or stress you and your child. They should be made to guide decisions. When your kids are little, they can be shorter term goals, such as just finishing a soccer season while having fun with friends or learning to do a layup to get ready for next season.

As your kids get older, their goals can be longer-term. Looking to high school, college and beyond.

Carve out some time this week to talk to your child about their short-term or long-term goals.

Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach's wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter