Sports Love & family

Learning Life's Lessons through Sports


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Learn to Succeed from Failure

Legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano was quoted as saying,” Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.”

Even with these important words of wisdom from the late, great, coach, failure can still cause so much pain for young athletes and their parents.

It’s inevitably going to happen. At some point in your child’s life they will experience failure. There will come a time when your child will fail at what they are trying to achieve. They will miss a game winning shot in a basketball game, will give up the game winning hit or give up a goal. By every definition of the word, they will fail at something at some point in their life. In the end, that’s OK.

The first step to overcoming failure is to erase that word from your vocabulary. Failure can be a very destructive word that is used to describe events when goals are not achieved. I believe that we should be teaching our athletes that there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just an opportunity to learn and get better. If you get rid of the idea of failure in your mind you are then able to get rid of the fear of it.

Getting hung up on the failure, the fear of failure or focusing on the wins and losses can distract the athlete from learning. Failure can be one of your child’s greatest teachers. We learn best by making mistakes or experiencing disappointments and then growing from them. Defeat and disappointments are an integral part of sports and life.

After experiencing a disappointment in sports or life, athletes can do one of two things. They can either feel bad about themselves and the outcome of the event or they can learn from it and come back stronger and better equipped for sports and life from it. Resilience is paramount to building confidence. Athletes must be able to learn from the past but focus on the present.

Trying to protect your child from experiencing failure, like discouraging them from trying out for a team or trying a new activity, or not letting them handle their own situations, takes away valuable life skills and learning opportunities. Children who are over-protected from failure often do not obtain the skills necessary to deal with it. This is the great thing about sports, so many of the skills needed in life can be learned through your child’s participation.

An important thing for parents to remember is that long-term success is always more important than short-term results. Failure gives your child important feedback and it is not something to be feared or fended off.

So even if your child misses a game winning shot in a basketball game, gives up the game winning hit or gives up a goal, your child will become a more equipped person and athlete by learning from what happened and knowing how to handle similar situations next time.

4 THINGS TO HELP YOUR CHILD LEARN FROM FAILURE:

1. Acknowledge and allow your child to express their feelings after the event.

2. After emotions subside help your child work through what occurred, focus on the positives and what can be learned from it.

3. During the days following remind them of their proven strengths and abilities.

4. Help them bounce back by reminding them that they always do.

 

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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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Winning isn’t Everything

I have three kids that play sports, so inevitably I can’t always be at every game. Though, this kills me, its virtually impossible to be everywhere. So, after a game I wasn’t at, I usually ask the kids how it went.

Our first instinct is to ask “Did you win?” As parents we need to reset this expectation. Asking an innocent question like that puts too much emphasis on the wins and losses. We need to remember what the goal is, player development, learning the sport and having fun. Asking more specific questions such as “What did you learn today?” “Did you work on [fill in skill here] today?” Or even asking more vague questions like “Did you work hard today?” “How did it go today?” “Did you have fun?” can change the expectation that winning is all we care about.

If we change the way we have the conversation then we’ll start changing the expectation. Learning life’s lessons through sports doesn’t always have to be through wins and losses.