What’s Your Game Plan When Youth Sports Throws You a Curve Ball?

By Janis Meredith | Posted 7/22/2019

Do you have a game plan for handling the turmoil that will inevitably come when your child plays sports?

No matter how much you’d like to, there are things in youth sports that you simply cannot control. Whether it’s an injury, a difficult coach, kids who don’t make the cut on the team, or maybe it’s just a day when everything seems to be working against you or your child–you cannot control what happens to you. However, you can control how you frame it.

If you look up “frame” in the dictionary, you will find several definitions. The most literal one is an actual frame that is a border or case for enclosing a picture, window, or mirror. Framing completes the presentation.

Every day of life is like a picture, window or mirror; things that happen to you that you cannot control. But you can control the frame you put around the things that happen to you.

For instance, let’s say your child comes home complaining about their playing time. That’s the “picture” you’ve been given, and, in that moment, you have no control over that situation. What you do have control over is how you frame that “picture.”

You could choose to frame it with anger at your child’s coach for not playing your child more, frustration with your child for not working harder, or maybe your frame is a feeling of hopelessness that your child will never be good enough to keep up with the other players! Those frames do not add any hope or beauty to the “picture” you’ve been given.

But if you choose to frame it with feelings of hope that this season will pass, with feelings of determination to find a resolution to the problem, or with a belief that your child has the ability to do better, you’ve framed your “picture” with much a much more positive outlook.

How do you change your outlook on the things in youth sports that come into your life that you can’t control? It starts with learning how to see things differently. Reframe your outlook in these three ways:

Be Thankful for What Didn’t Happen 

Let’s go back to your child’s complaint about playing time. Even though it was hard on your child, be thankful that they didn’t come home injured or that they were cut from the team! Be thankful that your child can learn and go to school. Be thankful that your child didn’t get suspended for bad grades. 

No matter how bad something is, I promise you that it could be worse! 

Choose the Frame Before the Event 

When our children started dating, we had a talk with them about setting their standards before they went on their first date because we know that setting a standard in the heat of the moment does not usually work. 

In the same way, set your standard of behavior before an event happens. What should you do if your child comes home ready to quit the team because the coach is not playing them? How will you react if your child skips practice and lies to you about it? 

When you choose your “frame” or reaction before an event happens, you can avoid letting the default frame take over because chances are pretty good that frame is not a positive or helpful one. 

Ask yourself a few questions: How will I respond when my child disappoints or hurts me? I will most likely feel angry, but I do not want to blow up at my child or demean them. How will I react when someone treats my child in a way I perceive as unfair? I know that I will feel protective, but I want to handle it in a way that will help my child learn to handle it in a healthy way.

Basically, it can boil down to two types of responses: ones that are hopeful because you trust that things will work out for good in the end, and ones that are despairing because you just don’t see any way that things are going to improve. 

Choose ahead of time to focus on being hopeful and helpful. That is a HUGE reframing habit that will help keep your attitude positive. 

Look for the Small Victories

It is inevitable that you will find exactly what you are looking for in any situation. If you are looking for things to complain about or people to blame, or excuses to make, you will find them. However, if you are looking for the positive, the small victories, the little blessings, you will find those as well.

The choice is up to you. No one forces you to react and think the way you do. That is a victim reaction and it will never help you or your child grow and play to their potential. Purpose to set the example for your child on how to re-frame your attitude when life doesn’t go the way you’d hoped.

Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.