Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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The Dilemma of the Multi-Sport Athlete…

If your child is nearing high school age, and is a multi-sport athlete, chances are you’ve had conversations about them specializing or choosing one sport over another. You’ve probably had these conversations with each other, with your child and with coaches. With so much emphasis on winning, the pressure for coaches to have high performing teams is insurmountable. Some high school coaches are putting pressure on players to dedicate time to only their sport, instead of spreading time between other sports. When faced with this situation, there’s a few things to consider.
First, consider the source. Are you having these conversations with coaches? Let’s remember many coaches motivation is self-serving (remember myself and husband coach and it’s not every coach). Most coaches are not looking out for your child, they are looking out for their team or even themselves. Take what the coach says with a grain of salt and know there’s another coach waiting in the wings to discuss their intentions for your child, and most likely it’s the opposite of what you just heard.
Another source to consider is friends of your child. I bet you’re discussing this with them as well. While other parents are great sounding boards, friends of your child’s or teammates are probably not the best ones to discuss this decision. Again, part of their intention is self-serving. They want the best for their child first. While I know they care about your kid, that comes second to their flesh and blood. Any decision you make could have an impact on their child and therefore they may not be helping.
Now, I’m not saying to cease conversations with coaches and friends of the family, but I am telling you to take their opinions at face value. I don’t preach advice often, but take my advice here, listen and discuss with these people, but in the end don’t do what they want.
And lastly, the absolute most important thing to consider, is your child. Your child’s emotional well-being, your child’s development. How will this decision affect them, in the short-term and long-term? Have very real and truthful conversations with your kid. To many people this decision seems inconsequential. And maybe in the big-picture of life it is. But, for the next four years of your child’s life this decision is immense!
To your child, the weight of this decision could mean the difference of a college choice, could mean the difference of being a collegiate athlete, could mean the difference of giving up activities they’ve done from the time they were a tiny tot. This decision could change their identity or who they think they are or are going to be. This decision can change the course of how they thought things in high school were going to play out. So, yes, to an outsider looking in, it appears this decision is small in scale. But, to your child, it is EVERYTHING right now.
When faced with the decision to commit to one sport or to continue being a multi-sport athlete take all things into consideration. Think about the focus and time and money that will be poured into one sport or multiple, if that’s the decision. Think about how to balance it all, or just how to balance the one and school. Think about what the next four years looks like and the end goal. But, most of all, think about how this decision will impact the one you love the most, the athlete, your child.
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Creating a Culture

Dear Coach,

I love [insert your sport here]. I work hard and I try my best. At every practice I do everything I can to show you I deserve to be here. I work to impress you and my family. My parents believe in me. I believe in me.
I seem to have all I need, right? Well, I’m missing one thing. I’m missing your unconditional support. I know that you’re there to push me. I know that you believe in my abilities. What I don’t get from you is support “no matter what.”
If I’m hurt or not feeling my best, I’m afraid to tell you. I’m afraid of how you’ll treat me or how you’ll look at me like your disappointed. I’m sacrificing my body and my ability so I don’t have to confront you.
Sincerely,
Your player
————–
Does this situation sound familiar to you? Do you know an athlete whom struggles with an injury or a poor performance or two and wants nothing to do with talking to the coach? Unfortunately, this is all too familiar in our uber-competitive society. It’s the “whatever it takes to win” attitude. Take it from me, I’m as competitive as the next person, but when the athlete begins to sacrifice their mental and physical being for the game, we have a very serious problem. And fortunately, this problem can be resolved and even avoided. You may not like what I’m about to say, but, it begins with you, the Coach.
Yep, I said it. You can be the winningest coach, the smartest coach, the most motivating coach, but you also can be a culture crushing coach. What do I mean by that? One asset that many coaches do not have is learning and understanding their players. We expect this of our children’s teachers on a daily basis. We want the teachers to understand our children and tailor their lesson plans for each of them. Why do we expect it of teachers, but not of coaches?
As a coach, it is your responsibility to learn your players, to understand what motivates each of them. Players, just like students, are motivated differently. It is part of your duty to learn how to get the best out of each them. As well as, knowing when something isn’t right, like an injury. If you have an acute knowledge of your players, then you should be able to recognize when they are not 100%. Recognizing it is one thing, how you handle it, is another.

A player should never be afraid to tell their coach about an injury. Players are silenced because of the fear of being benched. Having an injury shouldn’t mean punishment. Show your player you care. Show them you are concerned more with their wellbeing than with winning the game. A little compassion at the beginning could save a lot of heartache in the end.


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Our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

We put together a list of items we love and that our kids just might get this holiday season (maybe 1-2 for us too)! Click on the pictures to get more information and prices. You can also check out our Stuff We Love page for more great sports gifts!

Practice Anywhere, Anytime
This net is designed to be durable, portable, and reliable. Set up and break down can be done within minutes; you can bring the practice session anywhere you go.

Launching levers and hidden contraptions make this miniature baseball game a real crowd-pleaser! Step up to the plate and swing for the fences! Realistic baseball action allows you to hit singles, doubles, triples, and homers with the spring-loaded bat. If you want to play baseball everyday even when it’s raining or night time, the Super Stadium Baseball Game is perfect for you.

This baseball inspired case is a cool way to protect your baseball lovers cell phone. The hard case offers great protection against small drops, bumps and scratches. It installs in seconds and allows for full access to all functions/ports.

By combining two American pastimes this fun gift combines a baseball and a bottle opener made from half of a REAL Leather Baseball.  The opener is magnetic so it sticks to any metal surface.

This pancake style glove is ideal for infield training. This device aids in developing soft hands and a quick glove to throw transition. If you have a baseball or softball player in your house that likes to work hard this is a great gift for them.

The Baseball Tumbler is a 30 oz stainless steel drink holder that keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and warm for over 12 hours even on the hottest and coldest days. This baseball tumbler is the perfect gift for any baseball fan to take to games or practice.

This sports hoodie is perfect for mom who has both a softball player and baseball player. This sports hoodie is perfect for mom who has both a softball player and baseball player.

Water Bottle – this one hangs on the fence and keeps your players water cold even in the hottest temperatures!

Frog Togs – keep all the kids cool through a hot summer day.

It’s the classic game of Capture the Flag that people have played for over 90 years – but adapted for today’s generation using glow-in-the-dark LED lights! Each kit includes 25 battery-powered, reusable lights that transform playing fields and players into glowing teams of blue and green. Complete with lit jail markers, territory lights, light-up wristbands and glowing crystals that serve as each team’s flag, this is truly a modern twist on a classic game.

The Star-Kick gives young players the touches they need to master ball control, develop proper passing and shooting techniques, and improve receiving. Maximize your training by minimizing ball chasing. Fits most players and securely holds size 3, 4 and 5 soccer balls.

The XTRAMAN Stand-In Basketball Defender can be used to help in your basketball training. In the past crucial drills have been performed using traditional tools like cones, but the XTRAMAN is the newest and only stand-in defender to accurately simulate the size and shape of a real player on the court.

Maximize your fitness potential with this Speed Agility Training Set. The package comes with one agility ladder, five hurdles, eight cones, one jump rope, and three latex mini bands. The perfect bundle to help your child increase their speed, agility, and muscular endurance.

The Perfect Curve CapRack18 is perfect for storing, displaying and organizing up baseball caps and visors. With two separate cords, each able to hold 9 caps/visors, you have the flexibility of putting both cords behind one door, or using a cord behind different doors in different rooms. Each cord has its own over-the-door and under-the-door hooks as well as a metal adjustment buckle to ensure a snug fit behind a door.

Let us know what’s on your athlete’s list this holiday season in the comments below.


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Don’t Compromise Your Why

I’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. It’s a book that was introduced to me in my professional life. And, recently I read this blog post about coaches balancing their Why and it really struck a cord a with me.

Start with Why is about your purpose, why do you exist, why do you do what you do? In business, the answer isn’t to make a profit, that’s a result. Sinek says “that people buy why you do something, not what you do.” In this video he uses Apple as an example. In short, we all have a reason for being and coaches have a reason for coaching, like in the blog I linked above.

Every coach has a Why, a reason they sacrifice so much, day in and day out. The example used in the blog is that a few families demanded that the coach do away with the equal playing time rule. This strikes a cord with me because all of the organizations my kids play for, have this rule, and we’ve encountered these same parents before. The coach (in the blog post) almost felt obligated to submit to those families out of fear of losing them to another club, in turn, compromising his Why. This coach wanted to try and “balance” his/her system to appease a few families. I absolutely love the response his friend gave him, “You do not balance anything. If you cater to those few who only want to win, it isn’t a balance. It is abandoning your principles. Instead, you get really clear on who you are and what you do….” 

If your organization or coach doesn’t have a parent meeting before the start of the season, they should. A parent meeting is a great way for the organization or coach to lay out their Why, their mission. It’s not going to remedy every situation, but at least the Why is upfront for all to see. If they don’t agree with your Why, they should probably find a different organization. “Never compromise the many for the few.”

I can sit here all day and pull out great quotes from the blog post, but I won’t. I encourage you to read it in its entirety, especially if you are a coach.


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Knowing Your Role: The Parent

“The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behavior. The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behavior.”

That quote says it all. We’ve come to the fourth and final role in our series. The role of parent is the most important, most influential of all. This post isn’t about how to be a good or great parent (I’m sure someone has written one). This is about parenting young athletes. It’s about our behavior and how it ultimately affects our children. In my years of coaching high school volleyball and my eight years being involved in youth sports, I’ve seen it all. I’m rarely surprised by parental behavior. Let’s remember what our role is for our athletes, the supporter.

The most important trait you should own as a parent is unconditional support. When times are good but mostly when times are bad. Be there. Guess what, you don’t even need to say anything. If you struggle with finding positives or constructive criticism, the best thing you can do for your child is just be there. A pat on the back, a squeeze of the side, a genuine look of ‘I love you’ is enough. Because news flash, you are enough for your child. Being there and watching is enough.

I think some parents try to show their love to their kid through yelling and being boisterous. When in fact, the opposite is most likely true. Don’t believe me, ask your kid. Really, ask them how they want you to behave at their games. They’ll let you know.

The next important thing as a parent is to let them play, develop and have fun. On the same note, let the coaches coach. Don’t impede the player or coach from doing their job. Remember, your job is to support. That means letting the coach do their job at games and practices, it doesn’t mean you coach from the stands. Coaching from the stands takes away natural instincts from players.

The best advice I can give to a parent of an athlete that has helped me maintain my calm at events, is to recite in my head “He/she is trying his/her best and they are having fun.” Remember, you are at a youth sports event, it is not life or death or the difference of getting a scholarship or not. I also like to think to myself, would I want my children to behave this way. If you don’t want your child to emulate your behavior, maybe you should change it…

 


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Knowing Your Role: The Player

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. “ – Vince Lombardi

I was a player before I was a coach or a parent. But, it was a long time ago; today I’m a co-worker and those values I learned long ago, serve me today. Now as a parent, I must remember what that was like, so I can share those experiences with my kids. Last time we talked about what it means to be a coach, to guide your players, to teach them the sport. Well, as the player your most important task is to be a good learner. This means showing up ready to work. This means being present and ready to learn. It means trying your best 100% of the time.

Once you join a team, there is no more I or me. As a player your child’s responsibility is to themselves, their coach and their team. If they have leadership tendencies, encourage them to step up and be that person for their teammates. Be there to pick them up, be there to encourage them. Be a doer, but also a shower (that’s almost more important). Show them that you always hustle, show them that you always give 100%, show them that when you struggle you are able to move on from it. If your child is not comfortable being a leader, encourage them be a team player, because that’s important, and it’s important to know how you can best contribute to the team.

A team player is someone that shows up to do their job. At practice their job is to listen to instruction, be respectful to the coach and teammates and try their best. At a game their job is to do all of the above but most importantly support each and everyone on the team. Cheer on your teammates. Give high fives or fist bumps, a pat on the back or a “good job” or “you’ll get it next time”. As a player they need to learn the game and try their best, as a team player they need to be the biggest supporter of each of their teammates.

Let your children know they don’t need to be best friends with their teammates, in fact they don’t even need to be friends. When you walk on that playing surface you’re teammates, no matter what else is happening around you. And if you’re all friends and want to spend time together afterwards, that’s just icing on the cake. This is the time when they’ll create memories that last forever. Enjoy it, live in this moment, because it really does go so fast.

One thing you will take away from being a teammate, is learning how to work with all different kinds of people and it will serve you your entire life. Remind your child that their individual commitment to the team is what makes the team work, and later, the company and society work. And that means we’re learning life’s lessons through sports!


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Knowing Your Role: The Coach

“A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.”

The coach of the team is the leader, the CEO of the organization so to speak. You alone have the ability to make or break a child’s spirit (that’s a lot of power). Parents have entrusted you to teach and guide their children in sport. As parents we feel you are our child’s guardian while in your presence. To be the voice of reason, the disciplinarian, the authority figure and to teach and manage the game.

As a coach your role is to lead your players. This doesn’t mean you need to win every game. This means guide them and teach them the fundamentals of the game and what it means to be on a team. You must support each player (unconditionally). You must recognize each of them has a role and each of them is important to the entire team. Each player should leave a practice or game knowing more than when they came and wanting to come back. If you’re breaking spirits and squashing their love of the game, you’re not doing your job. There’s no need to coddle, and there’s no need to berate. There’s a balance for each individual that will help them develop. Encourage as much as you can.

Set realistic goals for the individuals and the team. Help them reach those goals. Be there when things are good and more importantly when things aren’t. Know your players. Know their strengths and their weaknesses. Know things about them, other than their talent level. Put them in situations where they can succeed and allow them opportunities to grow. Help them build upon their strengths and improve their weaknesses; that way they’re always moving in a positive direction.

Do you have what it takes to positively affect a child’s life?