If your child plays sports (any sport), you might want to read this. It is very well written, and makes a lot of great points.
Today I heard a comment made about me behind my back. I started to turn around and look, but then decided better of it and kept my eyes on the field. My wife hears things like this more often than I do, because many of you don’t know who she is. She tells me what you say. I have received angry emails, full of “suggestions,” about who should be playing where and how I… lost that day’s game for the kids. I thought I’d write an open letter to all of you parents, even though I might never send it. I’ll start it this way: “I am a volunteer.”
I’m the one who answered the call when the league said they didn’t have enough coaches. I understand that you were too busy. I have some news for you. I’m not retired. I’m busy too. I have other children and a job, just like you do. Not only do I not get paid to do this – it costs me money. I see you walk up to the game 15 minutes after it started, still dressed for work. Do you know I’ve already been here over an hour? Imagine if you had to leave work early nearly every day. I’ve never seen you at a practice. I’m sure you’re plugging away at the office. But I’m out here, on the field, trying my best to teach these children how to play a sport they love, while my bank account suffers.
I know. I make mistakes. In fact, maybe I’m not even that great of a coach. But I treat the kids fairly and with respect. I am pretty sure they like coming to my practices and games, and without me or someone like me, there’d be no team for them to play on. I’m part of this community too and it’s no picnic being out here on this stage like this. It’s a lot easier back there with the other parents where no one is second-guessing you.
And I also know you think I give my son or daughter unfair advantages. I try not to. In fact, have you ever considered that maybe I’m harder on him than on the others? I’m sure he hears plenty of criticism at school from classmates, who hear it from you at home, about what a lame coach I am. And if, even unconsciously, my kids are getting a slight advantage because I know them better and trust their abilities, is that the worst thing in the world, considering the sacrifice I’m making? Trust me, I want to win too. And if your son or daughter could guarantee we’d do that, I’d give them the chance.
After this game is over, I’ll be the last one to leave. I have to break down the field, put away all the equipment and make sure everyone has had a parent arrive to pick them up. There have been evenings when my son and I waited with a player until after dark before someone came to get them. Many nights I’m sure you’ve already had dinner and are relaxing on the couch by the time I finally kick the mud off my shoes and climb into my car, which hasn’t been washed or vacuumed for weeks. Why bother cleaning it during the season? Do you know how nice it would be if, just once, after a game one of you offered to carry the heavy gear bag to my car or help straighten up the field?
If I sound angry, I’m not. I do this because I love it and I love being around the kids. There are plenty of rewards and I remind myself that while you’re at the office working, your kid is saying something that makes us all laugh or brings a tear to my eye. The positives outweigh the negatives.
I just wish sometime those who don’t choose to volunteer their time would leave the coaching to the few of us who do
Where The 'Elite' Kids Shouldn't Meet: By: Tim Keown - ESPN.COM SENIOR WRITER
Are you a "Baseball Parent?"
• I used to have a regular life (actually, many of my friends say that sentence should say, "I used to have a life," period). It doesn't really seem that long ago. Then I became a travel ball parent.
• I used to think anything over $40 was an exorbitant price for a baseball bat. Now the contents of my son's equipment bag are worth more than everything else in the house; including clothes, jewelry, watches, and my laptop computer.
• I used to be one of the leaders in my field of work. I still am (you have to keep a good paycheck coming in if you want to support a travel ball habit!).
• I used to think a double-header was a long day at the ball field. Now after two games, we're just getting warmed up!
• I used to look for little restaurants that served seafood fresh off the boat. Now I'm a connoisseur of nachos and hot dogs and my kids rate a city by the quality of a tournament's snack bar.
• Sunflower seeds used to be something I would see at a store and wonder who would eat those things? Now, I don't feel comfortable leaving the house without a bag in my pocket.
• My lawn used to be like a carpet. It was green, mowed, trimmed, fertilized, and watered. Now I have two big bare spots fifty feet apart and dents in my garage door from fastballs that got away!
• My car used to draw admiring looks and comments. It was clean and waxed and shined and Armor- All'd. Now, it only draws attention when it wins the "dirtiest car in the parking lot" award.
• I used to have a garage. Now I have an indoor batting area.
• My friends and I used to spend Monday mornings talking about a round of golf or movie we had just seen. Now I bore them to death with detailed play-by-play descriptions of five or six low-scoring ball games.
• We used to sit and talk for hours. We still do-- however, now it's to keep the driver awake when we're headed home late Sunday evening after a tournament.
• My summer casual wardrobe used to be made up of color-coordinated polo shirts, cool cottons in bright colors, and the occasional "aloha" shirt. Now I have a closet full of T-shirts that have Tournament Names on the front and competing teams on the back.
• We used to spend our summer vacation relaxing on the beach or visiting family. Now we hit the road with 20 of our closest friends in a caravan that could rival some small town parades.
• I used to be concerned that I would fall into the trap of living my life through my kid. Now I know that I'm privileged to live my life WITH my kid!!!
• Yes, I'm a Travel Ball Parent, what could be better! Author - Larry Warrenfeltz (University of West Florida
HE IS JUST A LITTLE BOY
He stands at the plate,
with his heart pounding fast.
The bases are loaded,
the die has been cast.
Mom and Dad cannot help him,
he stands all alone.
A hit at this moment,
would send the Team home.
The ball meets the plate,
he swings and he misses.
There’s a groan from the crowd,
with some boos and some hisses.
A thoughtless voice cries,
strike out the bum.
Tears fill his eyes,
the game’s no longer fun.
So open your heart,
and give him a break.
For it’s moments like this,
a man you can make.
Please keep this in mind,
when you hear someone forget.
He is just a little boy,
and not a man yet.
The emotions that a parent feels when watching his/her child play in organized sports can range from pure joy and pride to anger and disappointment. I believe most parents don't realize how emotional they become when they get caught up in the moment of watching their child in a competitive environment. The majority of parents start their children in sports for a number of great reasons:
An opportunity to spend time with their children.
To help their children form friendships.
To provide a safe supervised activity
Provide regular exercise
That's only a few of many great reasons to get a child involved in youth athletics. Parents deeply love their children and have a strong emotional bond. They want to help their child when they fail and stick up for them if they believe their child isn't being treated fairly. The intentions are good, but that strong emotional bond can also lead to parents not behaving in a rational way.
Check Your Behavior
Do you think you're being supportive by yelling at the umpire when a call is made against your child? Do you think your child feels better when you approach the coach during a game and in front of his friends and ask why your son isn't playing more? Chances are you're just embarrassing your child. It often doesn't take much for a child to be mortified by the behavior of his parents.
In addition to how you make your child feel when you can't control your emotions, think about the example you are setting. You wouldn't want your child to talk back or yell at the umpire. You also want them to be able to handle difficult situations without resorting to anger and yelling. If that's how you want your child to behave, then you need to be able to act in the same manner.
Be A Good Sport
This really is a continuation of the point above. Some parents want to blame losses on the coach or tell their kid that the reason they struck out was because the umpire blew the call. A better approach is to help the child deal with the disappointment and letting them know that it's not the end of the world if they strikeout or lose a big game. They need to know that umpires and coaches are trying their best and part of playing is that things aren't always going to go your way. It's easy to be a good sport when you win, but helping your child deal with disappointment and losing can be one of the most important lessons that a young athlete can learn.
Emphasize Effort And Attitude
Let your child know that you are proud of the effort they give on the field. This can be done whether they played a good game or made a couple of errors and didn't get a hit. If you only compliment your child when he plays well, that's how he will judge himself also.
Appropriate Level Of Competition
Everyone wants to be successful. If the level of competition is too difficult for your child, they will soon be discouraged and lose the desire to play. The number of options for youth athletics in most communities are plentiful. Find a level of competition that will allow your child to be successful while still being challenged.
It's Not You Out There
The success of a child doing well in athletics can be exciting and intoxicating for the parent. The fantasy of what could possibly be can enter into the mind of parents of very young children. Maybe the parent was a good athlete and thinks, "if I only worked harder and was more dedicated, who knows what might have happened". It easy to transfer your regrets into a plan of action for your talented child. Parents suddenly have a second chance to make it.
When this happens, it's time for the parent to take a hard look at what the child wants and adjust his/her actions to fit with the child's goals and desires. Statistically your child doesn't have much of a chance of playing at the professional level or even receiving an athletic scholarship to college. if they do, it should be their desire that allows them to achieve that level of success. It's not healthy for your child or the relationship you have with him if you try and push him in that direction.
Remember How Difficult It Is To Coach
Coaching is not an easy job. It's easy to criticize when standing on the sideline watching what is going on; it's another thing when you are actually coaching. Be aware of the difficult situation the coach is in. Believe me, it's difficult if not impossible to make everyone happy, especially the parents of thirteen young boys. The fact is that many coaches site "dealing with parents" as the number one reason why they quit coaching. As a parent, try to help out as much as possible. Volunteer to help at practices and/or games. By helping out from the beginning you will have an opportunity to talk with the coach on a regular basis and develop a relationship. That relationship is important when providing feedback for things that are going good and maybe things you think could be improved. A coach isn't going to give much consideration to a complaint from a parent that he/she never sees at practice or during games.
To develop skills and confidence.
Remember the T-Ball days?
He is the Boss!! He hears everything. Negative comments could hurt your team! Umpires do not like you to point out their mistakes. Bite your tongue!!
Making the Best Out of Youth Sports: 13 Steps to Being a Winning Parent
If you want your child to come out of his youth sports experience a winner (feeling good about himself and having a healthy attitude towards sports), then he needs your help! You are a vital and important part of the coach-athlete-parent team. If you do your job correctly and play your position well, then your child will learn the sport faster, perform better, really have fun and have his self-esteem enhanced as a result. His sport experience will serve as a positive model for him to follow as he approaches other challenges and obstacles throughout life. If you "drop the ball" or run the wrong way with it, your child will stop learning, experience performance difficulties and blocks, and begin to really hate the sport. And that's the good news! Further, your relationship with him will probably suffer significantly. As a result, he will come out of this experience burdened with feelings of failure, inadequacy and low self-esteem, feelings that will generalize to other areas in his life. Your child and his coach need you on the team. They can't win without you! The following are a list of useful facts, guidelines and strategies for you to use to make you more skilled in the youth sport game. Remember, no wins unless everyone wins. We need you on the team!
When defined the right way, competition in youth sports is both good and healthy and teaches children a variety of important life skills. The word "compete" comes from the Latin words "com" and "petere" which mean together and seeking respectively. The true definition of competition is a seeking together where your opponent is your partner, not the enemy! The better he performs, the more chance you have of having a peak performance. Sports is about learning to deal with challenges and obstacles. Without a worthy opponent, without any challenges sports is not so much fun. The more the challenge the better the opportunity you have to go beyond your limits. World records are consistently broken and set at the Olympics because the best athletes in the world are "seeking together", challenging each other to enhanced performance. Your child should never be taught to view his opponent as the "bad guy", the enemy or someone to be hated and "destroyed". Do not model this attitude! Instead, talk to/make friends with parents of your child's opponent. Root for great performances, good plays, not just for the winner!
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO COMPETE AGAINST HIMSELF
The ultimate goal of the sport experience is to challenge oneself and continually improve. Unfortunately, judging improvement by winning and losing is both an unfair and inaccurate measure. Winning in sports is about doing the best you can do, seperate from the outcome or the play of your opponent. Children should be encouraged to compete against their own potential (i.e., Peter and Patty Potential). That is, the boys should focus on beating "Peter", competing against themselves, while the girls challenge "Patty". When your child has this focus and plays to better himself instead of beating someone else, he will be more relaxed, have more fun and therefore perform better.
DO NOT DEFINE SUCCESS AND FAILURE IN TERMS OF WINNING AND LOSING A corollary to TWO, one of the main purposes of the youth sports experience is skill acquisition and mastery. When a child performs to his potential and loses it is criminal to focus on the outcome and become critical. If a child plays his very best and loses, you need to help him feel like a winner! Similarly, when a child or team performs far below their potential but wins, this is not cause to feel like a winner. Help your child make this important separation between success and failure and winning and losing. Remember, if you define success and failure in terms of winning and losing, you're playing a losing game with your child!
BE SUPPORTIVE, DO NOT COACH! Your role on the parent-coach-athlete team is as a Support player with a capital S! You need to be your child's best fan. unconditionally! Leave the coaching and instruction to the coach. Provide encouragement, support, empathy, transportation, money, help with fund-raisers, etc., but... do not coach! Most parents that get into trouble with their children do so because they forget to remember the important position that they play. Coaching interferes with your role as supporter and fan. The last thing your child needs and wants to hear from you after a disappointing performance or loss is what they did technically or strategically wrong. Keep your role as a parent on the team separate from that as coach, and, if by necessity you actually get stuck in the almost no-win position of having to coach your child, try to maintain this separation of roles (i.e. on the deck, field or court say, "Now I'm talking to you as a coach", at home say, "Now I'm talking to you as a parent"). Don't parent when you coach and don't coach at home when you're supposed to be parenting.
HELP MAKE THE SPORT FUN FOR YOUR CHILD It's a time proven principle of peak performance that the more fun an athlete is having, the more they will learn and the better they will perform. Fun must be present for peak performance to happen at every level of sports from youth to world class competitor! When a child stops having fun and begins to dread practice or competition, it's time for you as a parent to become concerned! When the sport or game becomes too serious, athletes have a tendency to burn out and become susceptible to repetitive performance problems. An easy rule of thumb: If your child is not enjoying what they are doing, nor loving the heck out of it, investigate! What is going on that's preventing them from having fun? Is it the coaching? The pressure? Is it you?! Keep in mind that being in a highly competitive program does not mean that there is no room for fun. The child that continues to play long after the fun is going will soon become a drop out statistic.
WHOSE GOAL IS IT? FIVE leads us to a very important question! Why is your child participating in the sport? Are they doing it because they want to, for them, or because of you. When they have problems in their sport do you talk about them as "our" problems, "our jump isn't high enough", "we're having trouble with our flip turn" , etc. Are they playing because they don't want to disappoint you, because they know how important the sport is to you? Are they playing for rewards and "bonuses" that you give out? Are their goals and aspirations yours or theirs? How invested are you in their success and failure? If they are competing to please you or for your vicarious glory they are in it for the wrong reasons! Further, if they stay involved for you, ultimately everyone will lose. It is quite normal and healthy to want your child to excel and be as successful as possible. But, you cannot make this happen by pressuring them with your expectations or by using guilt or bribery to keep them involved. If they have their own reasons and own goals for participating, they will be far more motivated to excel and therefore far more successful.
YOUR CHILD IS NOT HIS PERFORMANCE-LOVE HIM UNCONDITIONALLY Do not equate your child's self-worth and lovability with his performance. The most tragic and damaging mistake I see parents continually make is punishing a child for a bad performance by withdrawing emotionally from him. A child loses a race, strikes out or misses and easy shot on goal and the parent responds with disgust, anger and withdrawal of love and approval. CAUTION: Only use this strategy if you want to damage your child emotionally and ruin your relationship with him. In the 1988 Olympics, when Greg Louganis needed and got a perfect 10 on his last dive to overtake the Chinese diver for the gold medal, his last thought before he went was, "If I don't make it, my mother will still love me".
REMEMBER THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-ESTEEM IN ALL OF YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH YOUR CHILD-ATHLETE
Athletes of all ages and levels perform in direct relationship to how they feel about themselves. When your child is in an athletic environment that boosts his self-esteem, he will learn faster, enjoy himself more and perform better under competitive pressure. One thing we all want as children and never stop wanting is to be loved and accepted, and to have our parents feel good about what we do. This is how self-esteem gets established. When your interactions with your child make him feel good about himself, he will, in turn, learn to treat himself this very same way. This does not mean that you have to incongruently compliment your child for a great effort after they have just performed miserably. In this situation being empathic and sensitive to his feelings is what's called for. Self esteem makes the world go round. Make your child feel good about himself and you've given him a gift that lasts a lifetime. Do not interact with your child in a way that assaults his self-esteem by degrading, embarrassing or humiliating him. If you continually put your child down or minimize his accomplishments not only will he learn to do this to himself throughout his life, but he will also repeat your mistake with his children!
GIVE YOUR CHILD THE GIFT OF FAILURE If you really want your child to be as happy and as successful as possible in everything that he does, teach him how to fail! The most successful people in and out of sports do two things differently than everyone else. First,, they are more willing to take risks and therefore fail more frequently. Second, they use their failures in a positive way as a source of motivation and feedback to improve. Our society is generally negative and teaches us that failure is bad, a cause for humiliation and embarrassment, and something to be avoided at all costs. Fear of failure or humiliation causes one to be tentative and non-active. In fact, most performance blocks and poor performances are a direct result of the athlete being preoccupied with failing or messing up. You can't learn to walk without falling enough times. Each time that you fall your body gets valuable information on how to do it better. You can't be successful or have peak performances if you are concerned with losing or failing. Teach your child how to view setbacks, mistakes and risk-taking positively and you'll have given him the key to a lifetime of success. Failure is the perfect stepping stone to success.
CHALLENGE, DON'T THREATEN Many parents directly or indirectly use guilt and threats as a way to "motivate" their child to perform better. Performance studies clearly indicate that while threats may provide short term results, the long term costs in terms of psychological health and performance are devastating. Using fear as a motivator is probably one of the worst dynamics you could set up with your child. Threats take the fun out of performance and directly lead to your child performing terribly. implicit in a threat, (do this or else!) is your own anxiety that you do not believe the child is capable. Communicating this lack of belief, even indirectly is further devastating to the child's performance. A challenge does not entail loss or negative consequences should the athlete fail. Further, implicit in a challenge is the empowering belief, "I think that you can do it".
STRESS PROCESS, NOT OUTCOME When athletes choke under pressure and perform far below their potential, a very common cause of this is a focus on the outcome of the performance (i.e., win/lose, instead of the process). In any peak performance, the athlete is totally oblivious to the outcome and instead is completely absorbed in the here and now of the actual performance. An outcome focus will almost always distract and tighten up the athlete insuring a bad performance. Furthermore focusing on the outcome, which is completely out of the athlete's control will raise his anxiety to a performance inhibiting level. So if you truly want your child to win, help get his focus away from how important the contest is and have them focus on the task at hand. Supportive parents de-emphasize winning and instead stress learning the skills and playing the game.
AVOID COMPARISONS AND RESPECT DEVELOPMENTAL DIFFERENCES Supportive parents do not use other athletes that their child competes against to compare and thus evaluate their child's progress. Comparisons are useless, inaccurate and destructive. Each child matures differently and the process of comparison ignores significant distorting effects of developmental differences. For example, two 12 year old boys may only have their age in common! One may physically have the build and perform like a 16 year old while the other, a late developer, may have the physical size and attribute of a 9 year old. Performance comparisons can prematurely turn off otherwise talented athletes on their sport. The only value of comparisons is in teaching. If one child demonstrates proper technique, that child can be used comparatively as a model only! For your child to do his very best he needs to learn to stay within himself. Worrying about how another athlete is doing interferes with him doing this.
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO HAVE A PERSPECTIVE ON THE SPORTS EXPERIENCE The sports media in this country would like you to believe that sports and winning/losing is larger than life. The fact that it is just a game frequently gets lost in translation. This lack of perspective frequently trickles down to the youth sport level and young athletes often come away from competition with a distorted view of themselves and how they performed. Parents need to help their children develop realistic expectations about themselves, their abilities and how they played, without robbing the child of his dreams. Swimming a lifetime best time and coming in dead last is a cause for celebration, not depression. Similarly, losing the conference championships does not mean that the sun will not rise tomorrow.