Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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Life Lesson: Persevering through Adversity

What do you do when faced with adversity? Do you back down and give up or do you push yourself to the limit? Many of us learned this lesson on a ball field or court early on. The way we reacted to a challenging situation then, may not be the way we’d handle it now. However, being a parent allows us to use the insight we gained at those times with our children today.

Our daughter’s basketball team was playing another team they’ve played four times in the last two weekends. After that many games in a short time you learn a lot about the other team and each player. Our daughter ended up defending the same girl in each game. After the first game it became apparent she was an aggressive and “dirty” player. Last weekend she handled her very well. We were very proud of how she worked through that challenge and persevered.

However, after playing this team four times our girl was pushed to her limit. The fourth game was different. The other girl was more aggressive and dirty. She was actually being told to behave that way from her parents in the stands. Clearly, her mom and dad haven’t read our fan behavior post. At the beginning it looked like our child was getting the best of the other girl. I was proud in that moment, because I felt like she was pushing through everything this girl was trying to throw at her. But, as the game went on the physicality of it got worse. She hadn’t dealt with that before. I could see the frustration begin to build on her face.

After the game we walked over to tell her how proud we were of her. We let her know that she played the game the right way. It didn’t matter, the tears began to flow and she didn’t want to hear anything we said. She didn’t care that we were praising her, she felt like she didn’t handle it well. Her frustration was at an all time high. Her and I walked down the hall to the bathroom, all the while I was saying all the right things (in my mind).

After a few minutes in the bathroom of me trying to talk to her, I realized it was a lost cause in this moment. She was running on adrenaline and emotion. I tried to compete with that by using all the things I’ve learned from every sports article I’ve ever read.

We both learned something in that bathroom that night. I know that in those few minutes after the toughest game she’s played thus far she wasn’t hearing me talk about persevering through adversity and being pushed to your limit, but she did store it away in her mind. I also realized that I need to let her have space after a game. It’s ok for her to be emotional, all of the emotions, good and bad. I can talk to her about the life lesson she just learned first hand…but next time I’ll wait a bit.

This day was not about us helping our daughter in that moment, it was about giving her space so she could figure out how to work through the situation in her own time and way. On this day, WE learned a life lesson through sports.


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I Argued with an Umpire

By now you probably get that we advocate appropriate behavior at sporting events. Certainly arguing with an official is not something we advocate. But, we are guilty of doing it. It’s not one of our prouder moments, but we did it and then we learned from it. It’s a motto we’ve been telling our kids since they were babies. When you make a mistake, own up to it, learn from it, and move on from it. We talk about this a lot in our house and Todd and I walk the walk as best we can.

Todd will tell you that as a coach he will argue with an official, and he’s ok with that.

“I will argue over a rule infraction or player safety. It is important to stand up for your players. Other than that you’re just being confrontational and a bad example.” – Todd Deutsch

As a coach and a parent our goal is to keep our children safe. On this particular day the situation arose where there was a play at the plate. I don’t know about you, but I hold my breath at these moments. Our team was on defense, so it was their runner versus our catcher. When it came time for the runner to make a decision of sliding or continuing to run, he chose to jump over. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but it was scary to watch. Todd immediately ran to argue the play with the umpire. In his mind this was both a rule infraction and an issue with player safety. The baseball rule book states that “…jumping, hurdling and leaping are all legal attempts to avoid a fielder as long as the fielder is lying on the ground. -note: diving over fielders is illegal.”

Of course this particular umpire didn’t like that Todd was letting him know he didn’t know the rule. He proceeded to eject Todd from the game. My husband is non -confrontational and not a yeller. But, put a child in danger or break a rule, he’s all over it. He never got belligerent with the umpire, and in fact I was pretty proud of the way he handled it. Nonetheless, he was ejected…for the very first time in his 17 year coaching history. I proceeded to “discuss” the rule infraction and even showed the umpire the rule book. Again, he was not too happy to have someone point out that he didn’t know the rule, so he kicked me out too.

So, here we are. Both of us leaving the field area. One child on the field playing and the other two in the stands. After our anger subsided, embarrassment set in. Not from our behavior, but what it looked like to our kids. Our kids didn’t see us fighting for something we believed to be right, our kids saw their parents arguing and subsequently being told to leave. They were embarrassed.

We’re sharing this story with you to let you know we all make mistakes, we’re all human. But, it’s what we do after that mistake that defines who we are. This event was a turning point in our sport-parenting. This event was a catalyst to change. Make no mistake, I was in no way an obnoxious fan; but this did make me realize how I don’t want to be perceived by my children. They are the reason I’m at these sports events and they are the reason I’m now a more silent supporter.

7 Ways How Yelling at Officials is Hurting Children
http://play-by-the-rules.s3.amazonaws.com/Resources/R108_7-ways-how-yelling-at-officials-is-hurting-children.pdf

We’re all human and we make mistakes
https://www.theodysseyonline.com/parents-and-coaches-back-off-the-referees


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Staying Positive When There’s So Much Negative: Part III

This is probably the toughest one to write in the series. No one wants to see their child or another child being mistreated. It’s also hard to look back at a situation and see all the times you could’ve done or said something differently. I’m hopeful that this post will inspire someone, even if it’s just one person, to speak up in an awkward situation.

Here’s a little backstory. A few years ago we had a coach with the wrong goals in mind. You’re NOT a good coach when winning is more important than the physical and emotional welfare of your players. This person didn’t turn out to be what a coach should be, but I didn’t always feel that way. I thought they were knowledgeable and a nice person, and would be a good coach. All of this being said, I still had some concerns due to their intensity on the sideline. Note to self (and others) if there’s a parent on the sideline who is so intense you can’t stand sitting near them, don’t let them coach your kid! That intensity doesn’t go away, it only gets worse when given a position of power or authority.

At first things seemed fine. But, then we would stay at practice and witness the tone and words being spoken to the players. Certainly, not how I or Todd would deliver a message but it was only a little yelling and maybe some berating. It’s ok for kids to be exposed to that, right? Wrong, we were so wrong to let this go on. If it doesn’t feel right in your gut, do something about it. We didn’t. We thought handling the situation with our own child was the best way to handle it at the time. After each practice when our player was upset about what was yelled at them at practice or how they were treated, we discussed coping mechanisms. We discussed “the message” that was being yelled, not the delivery of the message. We thought having these conversations with our child was going to make them stronger and more adept at dealing with tough situations. We thought at the time we did what we were suppose to do and we thought we handled it well. We didn’t. Looking back at the situation we feel that having those discussions with our player were valid, but something more should’ve be done.

We let our feelings for this coach get in the way of our judgement for our child and other children. We justified situations that arose because we liked this person. I’ll be the first to admit, we were blinded by friendship and that betrayed our child. Let me be clear, I’m not advocating that if you don’t like a coach or you don’t like their coaching style that you should have them removed or that you should go to the governing body of that sport. What I’m talking about is abuse, mental or physical, either way, it’s unacceptable in the youth sports arena and should not be tolerated.

This situation was a turning point for me and my behavior. It made me step back and realize how I wanted my children to see me at their events. After living this situation I became a more silent supporter of my children. This is why I encouage you to take a look around at your kids next game. Evaluate other parents behaviors. It will make you see how you want to be. And, if a situation doesn’t feel right, say something. We teach this practice to our children, there’s no reason we shouldn’t do the same.

This is a good article with tips for dealing with a tough coach. We did some of things in here. All ok if the coach is not being abusive.

https://www.mentaltoughnesstrainer.com/bad-youth-sports-coaches/

This article is great if you’re struggling to know if you’re dealing with a bad coach. Our coach fell into these categories.

https://www.competitivedge.com/you-are-not-good-coach-when-you


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Staying Positive When There’s So Much Negative: Part II

Last post we discussed one of the little negative situations our children experience in sports. This time we’ll discuss one of the bigger things that’s a little harder to control…someone else’s actions. Whether it’s your child’s coach or parents in the stands, negativity is like a spider web, it spreads and everyone gets caught in it.

Trust me when I say, I’ve been here before and it’s a real bad road to detour down. I’m here to help you stay off that path. And believe me, it will only benefit you and your family to stay out of the web. It’s so hard, I know. But, do it…actually just don’t do it. Stay away, stay far away!

We talked last time about shutting down our kids conversations when they want to complain about teammates, or coaching or ref calling. We discussed how unproductive these conversations are. The same goes for parents on the sidelines. Youth sports have become a social activity for many. So, this means lots of gossiping and chitty chatty happening in the stands. Fine, discuss the who’s who of your town or what’s the best nail color to get, but don’t ever let these conversations become about what’s happening on the field|court. What I mean by that is, don’t bad mouth the coaching staff or any of the players. This is how it becomes a web and sadly, it only takes one negative person to get it going. If someone tries to engage in this type of conversation, shut it down. It’s so hard to do. If you just can’t do it, walk away, or re-direct the conversation. I’ve actually been in this situation and have gotten sucked in, and then after the game went to the car feeling horrible. We tell our children to stand up to bullies, yet, we ourselves have a hard time doing it.

So, that’s an easy solution for stopping the negativity in the stands, just squash it, don’t engage in it. It’s difficult to do, but give it a try for all involved.

But, what if the negativity is coming from the bench, meaning the coach. We’ll discuss that in Part III of this series. Read this article from heysigmund.com. about toxic people and the affect it has on kids. In the meantime, check out this book that we loved. It really opened our eyes to the criticism we were putting on our kids and changed the way we talked to them after the game. And Cal Ripken is just an awesome guy!


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Staying Positive When There’s So Much Negative: Part I

This can mean so many things to so many people, but I’m referring to just sports. Even then it can mean so many things. I’ll touch on the things I know and that we’ve gone through as a family.

Let’s start small, your kid is on a losing team. If your kids are anything like mine, that’s difficult because they’re competitive and want to win. Here’s how we handle this situation (and by we, I really mean Todd, because he’s awesome at this!).

When your kid feels stuck on a losing team, lots of things can go the wrong way. Negativity seeps into your happy-go-lucky child. A child who once brushed off a loss begins to get angry with each subsequent loss. It is our job as parents to rein that in. We teach our kids it’s ok to be angry after a loss. But, we also talk to them about appropriate behavior. We tell our kids to be mad, take a few breaths and be over it. There’s no sense on dwelling about what you could’ve done, how the refs|umps should’ve called the game or what other teammates could’ve done. We squash these conversations very quickly. Nothing positive comes of them.

Instead, we steer the conversation in a more positive light. For instance, we give them personal goals to work on in the game. Why not teach them that there is something they can control…they’re own actions (life lesson). Todd talks to the kids about what they can work on in the game|practice and they come up with goals (new one each time). An example would be, “today I’m going to work on being a leader, going left to the basket rather than right, taking an outside pitch to the opposite field.” After the game we talk to them about whether they accomplished this goal and what to work on next. Goals can be mental or physical. The mental game is very important and probably should be worked on the most!

We believe and again, we’ve done research on this the mental game is so important. But, many parents don’t know or understand that they need to teach this to their children. If you wait until your child is in high school, it’s too late. They’ve already set bad habits, start now, while your kids are young. We’re always sharing motivational videos with our kids. Like, this one from Nate Trosky (Todd’s latest baseball hero). Check it out with your kids and let us know your thoughts.

What about bigger situations? For instance, your child has a negative coach or there are negative fans in attendance. We’ve experienced that too, and will write about it in Part II (coming next week).


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A Few of Our Favorite Things

When we started discussing topics for the blog I knew I wanted to include a post about all our favorite products we need to get us through each sport season. The list is ever evolving so we decided to make a tab on the blog instead so we can keep adding to it. The intention is to segment it by Mom, Dad and kids. Take a look here and of course let us know what your favorite products are!


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Being a Parent of an Athlete

photo 2-2I’ve been watching sports all my life, but I’ve been a parent of athletes for about seven years. Once you become a parent of an athlete being a spectator is a whole new ball game. Over the last few years I’ve changed my watching game. Mostly because I’ve been around parents I don’t want to be like. Todd and I have done a decent amount of research on this topic (Links to various articles are below).
It started with the organizations our kids play for. They have rules in place for parents. I must admit that many parents don’t abide by them. The first thing is coaching from the stands. As coaches ourselves, we find it funny that there are so many parents who can’t help themselves. There are way more negatives to gain from this than positives. Not only are you undermining the coach, you’re undermining your player and doing that takes away their instincts. As a generation of parents we are ruining our children by controling so much of what they do. When they are on the sport field it needs to be the one place they make their own decisions. Right or wrong THE CHILD needs to be the one who makes the decision to pass or shoot….not dad from the sideline. And most of the time when we’re yelling to our kids, it’s too late. The decision should’ve already been made.
The next thing is yelling from the stands. I’m not talking cheering, I mean yelling. To me, using the word yelling gives it a negative connotation and that’s exactly what I’m talking about. In my years of coaching and being a spectator, I’m amazed at the things I hear yelled out at games. I thought it may be different at the youth level, but I was mistaken. I can sit here and list the things I’ve heard spouted from the stands but instead I’ll give you the acceptable things to say/do. Clapping, clapping is the number one most acceptable thing to do from the stands. Cheering, such as, positive screams, woo-hoo’s, yes’s, way to go’s. Cheer for your child first, if you don’t want to cheer for others don’t. That’s it, that’s all that should come from the stands. Never anything negative, no boo’s or hoots. No calling out players, coaches or refs. It’s the age old rule, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it all.
This is not just my opinion. Many professionals agree and most importantly your child does too. Ask them. I did, and I was surprised by the answer. My presence at the game is enough and all they need. I don’t have to be loud for them to know I’m there and excited. I would challenge you to sit back, say nothing, listen and observe other parents for one whole game, a lot will be discovered from this experience: I’ve taken this to the extreme and majority of the time I sit and watch without saying a word. I’m not telling you to do that, but I am asking you to look at yourself and your behavior and ask yourself if you’re proud of how you are at your kids’ games and would you want your athlete to behave that way.
If you only click on one link, make it be this one and watch the video.
Same video, with a blog post from another source.
Positive Tips for Parents
Take a good look at yourself while reading this list.


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A Fresh Start

Welcome! This is my NEW blog.

Sports teach us a lot about life. I played and coached sports for many years and believe I’ve learned valuable life lessons from all those years on the court/field. Now, my children are experiencing life through sports, and as a family we’re learning those life lessons and more! I’ll share with you all that I’ve learned in the more than seven years of watching my kids and what we’re all learning along the way.  I’ll also give Mom/Parenting tips (sports-related, I’m not a parenting expert) that I’ve learned (ie, best stain removers, packing for a day of sports events) and maybe you’ll have some for me too!

Hopefully, you’ll join us as we travel the sports path with our crazy family.

Next post to look forward to: Being the Parent of an Athlete. What does it mean to you and to your athlete?