Youth Sports Can Build a Strong Foundation of Character—If You Let It

By Janis Meredith | Posted 12/19/2018

If you have children in youth sports, then perhaps you know that there’s something very fundamental about the ups and downs of competition. Each time we allow our kids to face challenges, learn to overcome and feel victory, a foundation of strong character is being built.

This is all very nice and philosophical, but the reality is that watching that process can be very hard on parents.

When my 28-year-old son was young, he pitched for Little League. I remember one year when he was eight or nine, his team made it to the playoffs. Through the first several innings, he pitched well but struggled at the plate.

Three times he went to bat. Three times he struck out. And three times he went to the dugout after, fighting back tears. After the third strikeout, I knew he was a wreck, and I also knew he had to go back out and pitch.

RELATED CONTENT: Sports dreams for kids is a financial sacrifice 

At this point, I was no longer sitting on the bleachers. Even though I wanted to go hug him and dry his tears, I stayed away from the dugout and prayed.

The next inning, he struck out all three hitters, and with the game on the line in the bottom of the last inning, he got up to bat with two outs.

At that point, I was a mess inside. How in the world would my son face this pressure? After striking out three times, it was now within his power to hit in the winning run. Would he be able to forget the other failed at-bats?

In a Disney movie-like moment, I watched as his bat connected with the ball and sent it soaring over the outfielders’ heads, sending in two runs to win the game.

RELATED CONTENT: Why kids should play sports

A happy ending like that didn’t always happen to my kids. There were many disappointments, tears and challenges for my three children as they grew up playing sports. And each frustration—along with each victory—built brick by brick a strong foundation that has resulted in three amazing adults.

As you parent your kids through youth sports, I hope you see the value of the process and do everything you can to be sure that a foundation of strong character is being built.

Janis B. Meredith is a parenting coach. She provides resources to help parents raise champions. Learn more about how she can help parents Raise Champions.