The Ride Home
I decided to ask some former players a simple question: “What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?”
The overwhelming response: “The ride home from games with my parents.”
The same former players were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that made them enjoy the game and even over perform. The overwhelming response – “I love to watch you play.”
In this article, I would like to focus on the nightmare sports parent and next month talk about the ideal sports parent. Nearly 75 percent of kids who play organized sports quit by age 13. Some find that their skill level hits a plateau and the game is no longer fun. Others simply discover other interests. But too many promising young athletes turn away from sports because their parents become insufferable. The parents or parent that is so loving and rational at home becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It is sad to say but a lot of kids internally reach the conclusion that if they quit the sport, maybe they will get their Dad or Mom back!
As a sport parent, this is what you don’t want to become. Here are a few thoughts that you may try to avoid to make your child’s experience a good one. After all, Softball is nothing more than a platform to learn how to be successful. Team work, work ethic, handling the ups and downs in performance – these are skills that we will draw to later in life.
Overemphasizing sports at the expense of sportsmanship: The best athletes keep their emotions in check and handle the ups and downs, win or lose. Parents that are demonstrative in showing displeasure during a contest are sending the wrong message. Encouragement is crucial – especially when things are not going well on the field.
Having different goals than your child: Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miller of Proactive Coaching LLC, suggest jotting down a list of what you want for your child during their sport season. Your son or daughter can do the same. Vastly different lists are a red flag. Kids generally want to have fun, enjoy their time with their friends, improve their skills and win. Parents who write down “getting a scholarship” or “making the All-Star team” probably need to adjust their goals. “Athletes say their parents believe their role on the team is larger than what the athlete knows it to be,” Miller says.
Treating your child differently after a loss than a win: Almost all parents love their children the same regardless of the outcome of the game. Yet often their behavior conveys something else. Many young athletes indicate that conversations with their parents after a game somehow make them feel as if their value as a person is tied to playing time or winning.
Undermining the coach: Young athletes need a single instructional voice during games. That voice has to be the coach. Kids who listen to their parents yelling instructions from the stands or even glancing at their parents for approval from the field are distracted and can’t perform at a peak level. If you are second-guessing the coach on the ride home – maybe you need to coach a team!
Living your athletic dream through your child: A sure sign is the parent taking credit when the child has done well. Another symptom is when the outcome of the game means more to a parent than to the child. If you as a parent are still depressed by a loss when the child is already off playing with friends, remind yourself that it’s not your career and you have zero control over the outcome. Your job is to encourage and support your child!
Coach Mike Candrea
- Teams with talented players have an obvious advantage, but they’re not guaranteed success.
- Talent by itself isn’t enough to win a championship. Teamwork is an essential ingredient to success.
- Players must put the team first. A great player can win any game. A great team can win every game.
- If you have talent, you need teamwork to maximize it.
- If you’re short on talent, you need teamwork to overachieve.
7 Pillars of Teamwork:
- Lead your teammates. Coaches cannot be the only leaders on the team. Leadership must come from the players, on and off the court, at every practice and every game.
- Elevate your teammates: If you aren’t making your teammates better; you are making them worse. Players need to raise the level of their teammates through their enthusiasm, encouragement and through working hard by example.
- Respect your teammates: You don’t have to be BFF’s with every teammate. But you do have to respect every teammate. The starting point guard needs to respect the last player on the bench (and vice versa). Respect them as a person; respect their role.
- Trust your teammates: You have to trust that your teammates know, accept and embrace their role. You have to have full confidence that they will be in position on ‘help defense’ and trust they’ll make the shot when you give them the extra pass.
- Discipline your teammates: Players need to police each other on and off the court. Coaches can’t be everywhere. Coaches can’t see everything. Players need to ‘fix’ poor behavior internally.
- Back your teammates: A team is a family. Would you let someone pick on your little brother at the park? I hope not. If your teammate ever gets in a bind, on or off the court, they need to know you have their back.
- Challenge your teammates: Competition amongst teammates is invaluable. If you are the ‘back-up’ point guard, you should challenge for that starting position every single day. Not challenging your teammates during practice is selfish. Competition should bring out the best in everyone.