As a sports parent, you will give a lot of advice and encouragement to your young athlete over the years. As you do, remember that there is one six-word phrase every athlete needs to hear and believe from his parents.
There’s more to life than sports.
When your youth football player doesn’t get chosen for the all-star team, there’s more to life than sports.
When your middle school football player doesn’t make the A-squad, there’s more to life than sports.
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When your high school player spends more time on the dugout than on the field, there’s more to life than sports.
When your college player struggles for playing time on a very competitive team, there’s more to life than sports.
During one difficult basketball season for my youngest daughter, her older brother sat her down and reminded her that there’s more to life than sports. He wanted her to fully understand that she should not define herself only by her sports.
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Timing is everything
The tricky part with saying those words comes in timing. It is important that they are spoken at the right time, when your child is most receptive, which will most likely not be the minute they learn they didn’t make the team, or on the way home in the car after they sat the bench for most of the game.
Better yet, your young athlete needs to hear those words before facing the tough times. Children need to hear them from the very beginning, when they are old enough to start playing.
And just as important, children need to feel those words. Which means you can’t just speak those words, you must live them.
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Be sure your child has other interests, be sure your child knows that win or lose, succeed or fail, you’ll be supportive. Be sure you do other things with your children besides go to their games. Be sure your conversations and actions back up what you are saying.
Because in the end, the most important words your child hears will not be the words you are saying, but the words you are living.
Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about how she can help parents have Less Stress and More Fun in Youth Sports.