“Commitment is the glue that bonds you to your goals.” —Jill Koenig
Athletes who have commitment issues are the ones who struggle to make it through a season without throwing in the towel. They are the ones who start out loving a sport, but by season’s end are ready to move on to another sport, someplace where the grass is greener, so to speak. They are the ones who want instant success or glory, and when it doesn’t come, they are ready for the next shiny object.
This type of behavior is OK for small kids, but if your child is serious about playing a sport long-term, then having commitment issues is going to make it very hard to make significant progress.
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It’s sad that commitment is a trait that today’s culture often downplays. Neglecting it robs people of the satisfaction and joy that only comes from staying committed. Allow me to explain.
My husband and I have been married for 35 years. How it is possible to remain committed to the same person for so long? It’s certainly not because we’re perfect or because we didn’t have hurdles. It’s because we were committed, and I believe the principles of commitment we’ve learned in our marriage are the same principles your child can learn from playing sports.
Why is commitment so important for your young athlete?
Although commitment to a marriage and commitment to working hard in sports have their differences, they also have a lot in common. They are important for these six reasons:
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1. Commitment gives deeper relationships
The longer your child is committed, the deeper the friendships, whether it’s on the same team or in the same league. When children play a sport for any length of time, they will undoubtably make friends in the community. My kids are still friends with some of the people they met through elementary school and middle school sports.
2. Commitment teaches your children things about themselves
Staying with something when it gets hard is always an eye-opener for what’s inside of your children. They will learn things about themselves — their strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, triggers. Athletes who run from team to team, from sport to sport, looking for what’s easy, what’s comfortable, miss that opportunity.
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3. Commitment pushes your child to become less selfish
When people slug through and stay committed, they shows that they are thinking about more than just what they want. They’re thinking about the needs and desires of others. They learn that they can’t always have things the way they want them.
4. Commitment always brings rewards
Staying committed always brings rewards. The reward of seeing results. The reward of knowing you didn’t cave in to pressure and walk away. Commitment pays off, plain and simple. The timeline may not be what you’d wished for, but sticking with something will satisfy in the end.
5. Commitment achieves big goals
Professional athletes and Olympic champions will tell you that commitment was what got them to their goals. No wishy-washy, halfway-committed athlete ever gets to the pros or Olympics, or even to college. If your children have big goals, they have to have big commitments.
6. Commitment brings strength of character like nothing else
Commitment is hard, and that’s why it produces strength of character like nothing else can. My daughter competes in crossfit and is doggedly committed to consistently working out and eating right. I know that some days it’s not fun for her, but she’s become very strong, both mentally and physically because of it.
Author Neil Strauss says, “Without commitment, you cannot have depth in anything, whether it’s a relationship, a business, or a hobby.”
Steer your kids away from the shallow end of life by showing them and by talking to them about the value of commitment.
Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. She provides resources to help parents raise champions. Learn more about how she can help parents have Less Stress and More Funin Youth Sports.