Kids are not known for their patience. In youth sports; you may see young athletes who struggle with patience for themselves or for teammates in practices and in games.
When that happens, kids may get annoyed with themselves or with teammates and express anger or frustration by yelling, crying or stomping off the field.
Coming back from a 2-3 month hiatus from organized sports may test your child’s patience even more. Even though they may have stayed in shape and continued to work on their skills, there’s nothing like actual team practice and competition to highlight a player’s weakness or area of struggle.
As coaches and parents, you have an opportunity to help your athletes build their patience muscles in a number of ways:
Remind kids that sports are FUN. Be sure you are smiling, and even laughing during practices, and even during games. If you are tense and impatient it affects your athletes. If they see you exercising patience, they are more likely to be patient with themselves.
Show patience. It may take a little while for kids to remember some of the basics of the game. Praise them for what they are doing right and point out what they can do better.
Talk to them about their time in quarantine. As a team, talk about what they did right during quarantine and what they could have done better. Ask them what areas they personally feel they need work on. Kids experienced a lot of emotions during the COVID-19 shutdown and talking about it with others can help release some of the frustrations they felt.
Help them set goals. Measure and record where they are now and help them set goals. Come back and measure those goals frequently so they see progress.
Stress commitment to the process. Remind your athletes that commitment is what will take them from where they are now to where they want to be. There’s no quick fix, no substitute for slugging through the process. Losing patience with themselves or their teammates will only short circuit that process and the commitment that accompanies it.
From my experience as a family and parenting coach, kids change when parents change their perspective. Help your kids learn patience by modeling it for them and having conversations that will broaden their understanding of the power of patience on their sports performance.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.
USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.