I believe I may have shared this article before: The Only Six Words Parents Need to Say to Their Kids About Sports — Or Any Performance. However, now that school is back into full swing and games have started, I needed the reminder. I just love this article. It makes such good points. I can’t imagine the relief kids would feel if parents implemented the practice of only saying these six words. I wonder how many parents could actually even accomplish this…..Or, if they even want to.
When I was at a recent get-together with some old high school friends, I asked a friend how teaching and coaching was going for him. He said teaching was going well, but he hadn’t coached for several years. He said, “I miss the kids, but I don’t miss the parents.” He went on to tell me how countless times kids would come up to him and say they didn’t care if they got a scholarship and played football in college, but their parents cared very much. The kids felt so much pressure from their parents that it took the joy out of the game for them.
Last weekend the kids had some friends over and the talk went to sports and how competitive some parents can be from the side lines. Two of the kids have a brother that competes in swimming, and they told us that we wouldn’t believe how competitive some swim parents are. They would see out of shape, overweight parents just screaming at the kids during their races. These kids had witnessed this first hand, and I could tell it left a negative impression on them.
I am competitive by nature. And, by the way, I think that’s fine. I think being competitive can push us to make our goals and to accomplish things we might not otherwise. I think there is nothing wrong with encouraging our kids to be competitive. It’s just when things get taken too far. I remember watching an interview with a former Olympian. She said, “It’s the coach’s job to coach and the parents’ job to support.” I love that. I am not saying that it is always easy, because sometimes keeping my mouth shut is almost impossible. (As hard as I try, if I am watching a volleyball game and I see a ball from the opposite side lobbing over the net, and I think someone in the front row can spike it down hard, I will yell, “Get up there!” I just can’t help it. I think I revert back to when I played and that was my favorite play.)
One of the things I try to instill to my children is that you should always be competitive with yourself. Especially in track, I tell them, “just beat your time from the last meet.” Just keep improving. My son made it to nationals in track this year. I told him my hope was for him to beat his time. He did! That meant more to me than anything. He worked all summer and he beat his time. He had a PR (personal record) that was 46 seconds off the first time he ran the 3000m at the beginning of the season.
I will mention as a side note, that I have this amazing friend who doesn’t get riled up when her kids play sports. I don’t know how she does it. She was a college volleyball player, so she was good enough and competitive enough to play at the college level. However, you wouldn’t guess it by how she talks about her sons. One son doesn’t play high school sports and she completely supports him. Although he would probably be a good athlete, he is more into farming and ranching, and she supports that. One time when talking about another son she said, “I don’t worry if he is on JV instead of Varsity. I just figure he didn’t work hard enough to get a varsity position.” She doesn’t make excuses, talk to the coaches, or bemoan how unfair things are sometimes. I’m impressed with her attitude. We could all learn from her.
I am certain from time to time I will lose my perspective as the years go by and my children finish up middle school and high school sports. But, just like I tell them, I will push myself and I will do my best. I will implement those six words whenever I can. And, I might even just be silent sometimes. Now, that’s going to be a challenge!