Keep Your Child Loving Sports
Jose Hernandez Coaching youth baseball for close to 30 years, Joe Hernandez played up to "AA" in the Pan American and Hispanic Leagues of Brooklyn, NY (in his youth played with Willie Randolph). He has written for other sites, is certified in the Cal Ripken League and as a Pitching Mechanics Coach by the National Pitching Association. His philosophy: teach the kids the fundamentals, keep it simple, let them make mistakes (don't over-instruct), respect each player's individuality and make sure they have fun. He says practice belongs to the coach and the actual game belongs to the kids. Finally, he is a strong believer that we must inject modern sports science into baseball and stop teaching many of the myths and fallacies that tradition has brought to the game. WebBall shares that aim (Click to close.)
Stay in sports =
stay in school
Research over and over demonstrates that kids who stay in sports tend to stay in school, get better grades and show overall better behaviors.
As parents and coaches it just makes sense for us to know something about what it takes to motivate kids to keep playing sports once they've started. Parents and coaches expectations and understanding can make a big difference.
If your child is not happy with sports, listen to him carefully. Two of the main obstacles in motivating kids to continue playing sports are...
- Unrealistic expectations from coaches and parents; and
- Unrealistic self-comparison with other athletes.
Unrealistic Expectations from Coaches and Parents
Coaches and parents have a strong influence on their kids. Their comments, behavior and expectations strongly influence a child’s young mind. Often a child loses his/her initial joy in sports because they are too preoccupied with feeling that they have somehow let their coach or parents down by not living up to their expectations.
Often coaches and parents, especially those with kids at the younger levels, are not attuned to the developmental level of a child. They inadvertently expect too much from a kid which cannot physically perform as expected. Why not? Because it is not only physically impossible but emotionally impossible as well, given the muscle coordination, attention span or level of dedication of a given child at a specific age level.
The kid then struggles to live up to the expectations of his coaches and or parents, see no progress and eventually gives up or quits. In the process he ends up feeling like a failure in the eyes of those adults that matter most to him.
The boy broke into tears... he used to
I once read about a 10-year-old boy that was taken to a psychologist by his father because he wanted his boy to get "motivated". The boy broke into tears, relating how he used to love baseball but had grown sick of it because his dad had made him take 200 swings a day off the batting tee in his backyard, seven days a week. He said he had wanted to spend time with his buddies, but his dad had told him this was the only way to get to the big leagues! The boy eventually quit baseball, feeling that he had failed his dad.
Throughout the season I see similar patterns...
- parents that are just pushing too hard
- coaches that forget that they are coaching 8, 9 and 10 year olds
- and leagues that tolerate this kind of behavior from the coaches, etc.
We need to take a step back and remember that these are young impressionable kids that have a need to enjoy sports and must play for fun.
As a parent and a coach you have a responsibility to ensure that the number one priority is to create an environment for the kids to enjoy the love of sports.
- Share in the joy, they are precious moments.
- Don’t let it become a time of anguish and sheer disappointment.
- Allow each child to enjoy the sport and grow at his own pace.
You will never regret it and you will have done something far more important than having your child swing a bat 200 times a day. If a child does not perceive or is coerced into unrealistic expectations by parents and coaches he is less likely to have unrealistic self-comparisons with other athletes.
All parents want the best for their kids... make sure that you are part of the solution and not the problem.
It is a shame how throughout the season you hear kids feel that there is “no use in trying...no matter what I do, it'll never be good enough! My coach is never satisfied... my parents are never satisfied. I can't compete against other kids who are so much better than I am..." and mind you this is from 8 and 9 and 10-year-old boys. You wonder why they dropout of organized sports?
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Louis Victoria says:
Feb 29, 2008 at 10:39 AM
EXCELLENT ARTICLE AND EVALUATION I COACH U9 TRAVEL TEAM IN SOUTH FLA AND FOUND THIS ARTICLE ENLIGHTENING AS WELL AS PUT THE GAME IN PERSPECTIVE. MY SON IS ON THIS TEAM AND I WANT HIM TO CONTINUE TO LOVE AND ENJOY THE GAME.