What stands between your child and a positive youth sports experience? Before you start pointing fingers at teammates, coaches, or other parents, take a few minutes to look closer to home. There’s plenty of obstacles there that will spoil the fun for your child. Are any of these five, haunting your house?
Blame. When things don’t go the way you or your child would like, the blame game only makes the situation worse. A season of blaming everyone else for your child’s struggle will not help them become a better player.
Comparison. Contrary to what many sports parents think, using comparison to motivate an athlete to play harder may backfire. Instead of motivating, it may disparage an athlete from persisting and working hard. No child wants to feel he has to be like someone else in order to gain approval.
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Fun-sucking. Yes, I know, sports are often hard work and is not always fun. But sucking the fun out of sports does not mean that practices and games are easy, hilarious, and free of any hard work. It simply means that kids are allowed to laugh and enjoy the game even as they work hard. It means that the importance of youth sports is not blown out of proportion and that kids are not forced on the D-1 scholarship track before they are out of elementary school.
Over-protection. Parents who hover, interfere, and try to control the youth sports experience for their children are not only being over-protective, they are robbing their athletes of the invaluable life lessons that come through hard knocks and challenges.
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Pushiness. Encouraging your child to stretch themselves is one thing: placing demands on a child that burdens them to the point where they lose their passion to play, or worse yet, they only play to please a pushy parent, is an example of parental expectations gone very bad.
Don’t let any of these obstacles keep your child from getting all that can be gained from a positive youth sports experience. He or she has an opportunity to make big strides in character as well as in skill-development if you clear the path of these stumbling blocks.