Sports and athletics were such a common thing for me growing up that I shudder to think where my life would be, and what I would have become if I didn’t get involved in athletics as a youngster. And if I didn’t have all of the people that helped me in my growth and became major influencers in my growth.
In today’s athletic environments, teachers, coaches, youth leaders, volunteers and even neighbors taking a moment to share their unsolicited (at times) opinions all play a major part in the formative growth of young people. In fact, these various influences‘ assistance is so pervasive that if one of those aforementioned entities sway off the course of what is deemed socially acceptable behavior, then things can change very quickly for a young person.
All should be respected as people of interest and each thought shared by them should be weighed in the balance by athlete. But none should have a more vested interest in the life of a young athlete than their PARENTS.
They are the ones that carry the most weight (as well they should). In sports, parents impact their children in at least three ways says Cindy Kamphoff, Ph.D.:
“First, they play an influential role in the type of sports they play. Parents decide which sports their child will participate in or not.
Second, they provide an important financial role by purchasing equipment and driving their child to and from practice and games. But probably the least recognized way parents influence their child is how they interpret the event. Meaning, what parents do or say, or not do and say, impacts how invested and involved their child will be in sport.”
Parents provide motivation to push beyond what their child thinks they can accomplish and are a sounding board when trouble arises. An athlete looks for guidance and direction and will often turn to (and follow) the advice given to them by their parents or a trusted guardian who understand the subtle nuances it takes to keep their particular young athlete focused towards the being the best version of themselves that they can be.
The premise of this article is to help parents understand that what they say can often be the motivation or hinderance that their child may need to go forward or take their ball and go home. I often hear people say, “That parent is trying to live their dreams through their kid” and as I attend games and see the various interactions between players and their parents, I’m not sure if they’re actually living their dreams through their child or becoming a reoccurring nightmare for them by attending games and events.
Parents, I know you mean well, and I applaud you for ALL that you do for our young people but let me offer you a few words of wisdom (not advice) moving forward with your child.
- Do your best to just SUPPORT and not always look to criticize efforts that YOU may think weren’t their best effort.
- Don’t always emphasize winning or losing (I know winning is important) but be pleased with your child’s EFFORT though they may have come up short.
- Discipline your child for poor sportsmanship ( i.e., yelling at teammates, arguing with their coach) and help them understand that a huge part of being in athletics is having a GREAT attitude with those you come in contact with.
- As much as possible do not (and I repeat) do not COMPARE your child with other players. Help them focus on THEIR improvement and growth. It will go a long way in ultimately determining whether they stay involved or lose interest in sports.
- Get YOUR ego out of it. I know you have expectations, but so does your child. Mom, Dad, they’re NOT trying to be unsuccessful when they’re performing, and nothing would please them more than knowing YOU’RE pleased. So, when they have that tough day or game you have to be cool with it and find something positive to say even if it’s “let’s get after it again tomorrow.”
Hopefully, I’ve shared a few nuggets if wisdom in this column today that will help moving forward. The girls state shampionship is over, and an interesting boys Sectional is beginning, so good luck to all of our area teams!
Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003. Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers.