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There are many signs of athletic burnout that parents should watch for when raising an athlete. Burnout usually occurs from one of three things. 1. Over-play – too much of one sport, games and practice combined. 2. Over-sport – trying to play too many sports at one time. 3. Over-expecting – when expectations are too high, either from others or self, players can become burned out trying to reach the unreachable. Signs to watch for – easily angered player, inattentive player, non-respectful player, very unmotivated – and these are occurring when the player never showed these tendencies before.
Parents should not underestimate the influence that their child’s coach have on them There is no better motivator for a youth athlete than playing for a coach who is caring, inspiring and knowledgeable. Finding this type coach at the youth level can be difficult too and is often just the luck of the draw in leagues where players are picked in a draft type situation. As players move up the sports ladder though, parents can look for these type coaches at the travel and high school levels. Finding theses coaches can be well worth the effort though, even if that means moving to a better school, because a great coach can be a positive influence for the rest of their kids lives.
What to Say During Games
I see it happen all the time – a kid goes up to bat and his coach starts yelling to do this (“swing level,” i.e.) and the player’s parents are saying to do that (“keep your hands up,” i.e.) and then the hitter lets pitches go by that are right down the middle. The coach and parents both sigh with disbelief thinking “why didn’t he swing at that.” Little do they realize that the batter didn’t swing because he was thinking about how he was going to keep his hands up and swing level. The point is that giving mechanical instructions during games takes concentration away from what is important, timing the ball in this instance. Coaches and parents should just give words of encouragement during games and leave the mechanical tips for practice. This gives players the chance to give their ultimate concentration to the things that are important to succeed. When success doesn’t come, it’s back to the drawing board (practice) for the mechanical adjustments.
Rewards for Winning
I am not a fan of rewarding teams or individuals when they win or play well. Adults often do this by promising to go to a certain restaurant or buy the players a certain something when they win or perform well. It often seemed like kids ended up playing more for the reward and not for the fun of the game and for winning itself. It also set the players up for more disappointment when they did not perform well and put parents in a bad spot of denying things to kids. However, I do like the practice of rewarding playerss with a little reward for a great effort level, win or lose.
Image by mag3737 via Flickr
I remember reading this saying somewhere and have never forgotten it, “Scoreboard begins with letter S, but so does Sportsmanship.” The point is that who wins and loses is somewhat important but the feelings associated with them goes away quickly. The feeling one gets when applying good sportsmanship is a way of life and never goes away.
The Power of Breathing to Eliminate Sports Pressure
I hear this comment all the time, “He/she can do it in practice, but not in games.” A very common and very frustrating occurrence, of course, for both players and parents. Most of the time, this happens because players’ fundamentals are not that sound but it may be that players are feeling increased sports pressure in games. With this in mind, coaches should teach kids to take a deep breath like in a doctors office before a pitch. They don’t have to make it real obvious to everyone around but taking this deep breath can help a player relax and focus, which eliminates excess sports pressure.
How to help a youth sports coach?
Maybe the biggest complaint in youth sports is, “The coach stinks.” Maybe the complaint has merit, maybe not. If parents believe that is the truth, they should do something about it. After all, what is more important? Having your child go through a miserable season or doing something to help the situation. Talking to the coach probably will not make the situation better. So, a self serving suggestion I know, but, what about buying a book like “Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport” and give it to the coach. If you feel uncomfortable giving it to the coach, do it anonymously. A book like this will help any youth sports coach to learn to treat kids better and inspire the coach to learn the particular sport better too.
Many parents don’t realize that they are exerting excessive parental pressure on their sports playing kids. If parents notice the following happening often they should learn to back off some. 1. When analyzing their child’s play to others the young player always disagrees with the analysis. 2. When a child is playing or practicing, they are constantly looking to their parent for approval and/or for instruction. Parents should allow and insist that their kid pays attention to their coach during practice and games.
Remember, it is OK, in my opinion, to miss your kids games occasionally
Somewhere, over the years, the opinion has been created that one is a bad parent if when they don’t attend their child’s games. Feeling this way may put too much emphasis on the child’s sports career to the point where the sport becomes “everything” to every one. This doesn’t mean parents should not show interest in their games with post-game questions but it is not necessary to be at every game.
Sleep on It
When parents feel disappointment over their child’s effort level or practice habits, it is a good idea to wait to tell them the next day. This may lead to a sleepless night for the parent, but not to a bunch of sleepless nights because you say the wrong thing immediately. Giving yourself time to say something with the correct words and with the proper emotion will make everyone (kids and parents) feel better in the long run.
Remember, doing something right and doing something almost right is the difference between athletic success and failure. Parents should keep this in mind when they can’t figure out why their kids are atruggling to have success in sports. Skill development in every sport requires correct fundamentals repeated continually in practice so that the skill happens automatically in the game. Practicing a skill almost correctly but not totally correct will lead to game failure in time. Having a players skills reviewed by a professional and practicing the suggested tips will almost always be beneficial for a players future.
* “Everyone has the will to win – the winners are those that have the will to prepare to win” is one of my favorite quotes I have come across. This point cannot be emphasized enough to kids who often expect success because they show up and play the games. Sports success doesn’t come that easy where there is almost always a winner and loser. Letting kids know that they (players) will feel satisfied, win or lose, only after they have prepared to the degree they are comfortable with is important positive coaching advice. This degree varies of course for each individual player – some are satisfied doing a little where others are satisfied only if they prepare a great deal. Parents should recognize that kids are different and not expect more than what their child is willing to give. This is not to say that parents should not emphasize that they(kids) will be most satisfied when they put in their best effort.
Casually bringing up a memory of a good athletic play that your child made at an unlikely time is a good positive parenting idea. For example: while sitting on the beach with your child or driving to school saying “I just thought of the time you made that game saving tackle” will put a good thought in your child’s mind and can boost their self -confidence and self-esteem. Putting positive sporting images in the mind is good practice for parents as well as kids, especially when kids are going through struggling athletic times.
Encouraging athletes to work hard and expressing how much you (parents) appreciate it when they do work hard is important. Not every athlete can be successful but letting kids know that they are winners because of their high degree of effort is what’s important. Reminding athletes that they can not always control the outcome but they can control their amount of effort and preparation is the key. What athletes usually figure out is that the increased effort usually helps determine success and as we all know positive outcomes make playing more fun.
Parents should encourage their kids to be leaders out on the field or on the sidelines. Letting kids know that they do not have to be star players to be team leaders is important. Players can always contribute with their enthusiasm and with “being there” for their struggling teammates.
Developing sel-esteem in youth is crucial to there development and sports is a great medium to be able to do this. Good coaches know how to do this by using the following actions:
1. Good coaches recognize the different personalities of each player and encourage each player to be themselves – trying to get players to be like someone else or to act differently is not usually good. Though, this Read the rest of this entry »
Having taught youth for a great number of years, I have encountered a great number of skill levels in kids. A few of my students have gone on to play major league baseball and many were cut from their Read the rest of this entry »
I have been keeping up with Luann on her training for fun blog – even though I am a guy, of course – but recognize the importance of what she believes in. Parents, in my opinion, should not miss out on doing these type things when their kids are young – otherwise, parents often look back when their kids are teenagers and wonder why they and their kids have nothing in common or why their kids turn to their peers for advice more than they turn to mom and dad. Here is a review of my book that she did but be sure and check out all her writing.
See more at www.trainingforfun.com
Travel Ball Conundrum
Whether a child should play travel ball in a particular sport or not and at what age to begin playing is often a tough call for parents. In my latest book Raising an Athlete, I spend a whole chapter discussing this dilemma. There are four key things that can help determine Read the rest of this entry »
I often encounter kids that play baseball because their parents want them to. I can tell their heart is not in it and are only playing to please their parent. This is unfortunate at times, especially when the parent gets upset with the childs attitude. The problem is that parents may have waited too long to help the child develop a serious interest in that activity. Read the rest of this entry »
Over the years, one of the most trying situations I encounter as a youth coach is dealing with the “Know it All Player.” More often than not this player tends to be a young teenager who is not afraid to be bold and let me know that his way is better Read the rest of this entry »
I have received this comment many times from parents over the years, “Would you make him a major leaguer.” I always respond with “only he can do that, but I will try to instill the correct fundamentals and impress upon him the importance of a great work ethic.” To avoid having Read the rest of this entry »
A few posts back I wrote about always being on the lookout for little inspirational quotes to have ready to say to athletes. Words are great but not as good as actions, of course. With that in mind, here are the three key ways to motivate athletes: Read the rest of this entry »
It is very common for kids to dislike their coach for what ever reasons. Sometimes kids have a legitimate gripe but parents should not allow kids to trash talk their coach. Kids should be brought up to respect other adults as long as those coaches are not abusive in any way. It is important that parents inform kids that their coach is Read the rest of this entry »
Previously, I had written about my favorite word when talking to athletes was “we.” It gives off the feeling to youth that all (parents, athletes and players) are in it together and that the athlete does not have to figure it out or go it alone on their Read the rest of this entry »