Monday, June 28, 2010

10 Tips Sports Parents Should Know to Help Kids Get over Disappointment

Many parents of youth athletes believe their child is a
star or will become one. In reality, only a minute few
youth athletes will ever become star players and most kids
stop playing sports at a young age. Most youth are average
players who fail in sports as much, or more, than they
succeed. It is important that parents understand this
reality when their kids begin playing sports. Parents, who
approach their child's sports with this perspective, will
have the patience needed to help kids get through the
disappointment that often comes in youth athletics.

Without this sport perspective and patience, disappointment
and frustration can easily set in and a young athlete's
season or career can be ruined if sport parents panic when
their kids struggle in sports. I have seen many youth
athletes give up playing sports because of the lack of
parental and coaching patience and perspective. However, I
have witnessed many players reach their potential, while
having fun, when parents and coaches show good sport
perspective and patience.

Parents who do not display this patience and perspective
create tensions with their kids that often lead to regrets
later in life. Parents who understand that all athletes
endure disappointing performances often in sport, even the
great athletes, have the correct perspective that helps
kids mature into positive, mature adults. Additionally,
parents, who help players get through the tough times
without creating undue tensions, feel good about themselves
and their positive role model status. Here are ten tips
that adults can use to help youth athletes to avoid
excessive pressures and tensions.
Sports parents and coaches should: 


1. Encourage kids to have long-range goals so they don't
feel overwhelming pressure to do well each and every game.
For example, telling kids to have the goal of making the
high school team is good. This lets kids know that they
don't have to be a star immediately and if they continue
working at their skills, making the high school team is a
realistic goal. Short-term goals are fine as long as they
are general ones that involve their effort level, as
opposed to goals that involve performance numbers. For
example, having the goal of improving as the season
progresses and of working hard are good goals, where trying
to reach certain statistics often leads to disappointment
that hinder future motivation.


2. Not show own frustration over their player's
performance in front of them. Stay as upbeat as possible
and "cry" away from everyone, if parents feel the need to
let out their own emotions. 


3. Give kids a few days totally away from the sport during
a rough stretch, if possible, and keep the talk about the
sport to a minimum during this time. Encourage youth
athletes to have outside the sport activities and to spend
time away from sport with friends.


4. Tell hard working players that their hard work will show
up in their results sooner or later, and remind not so hard
workers that success only comes with practice.


5. Tell players how much you believe in them and
that great sport performance is not everything.


6. Remind them of times they (athletes) did well,
after a player has had a little time to get over their
disappointment. Advice, given immediately after a game, is
not advised when players are apparently very
disappointed.


7. Have a bloopers tape on hand to watch. This can provide
some laughs and help players realize everyone makes
mistakes, even the great players.


8. Try to get players to "smile" or laugh when on
the playing field by using a little humor. This can relieve
tension and help athletes understand that they should not
take the game and themselves too serious. A well-timed quip
about something funny can do the trick. Also, having a
coach who is not very skillful demonstrate a skill can
sometimes create humor. Their failure can create a laugh or
two for players.


9. Point out little things where the player improved or
contributed. False praise - statements that are obviously
inaccurate for the situation - is not good but honest
appraisal, said in a positive way, is good. 


10. Learn to say, "Forget about it" or "hang in there" to
your kids after a tough game. It is always best to
recognize and emphasize effort over results anyway,
especially when it was apparent that they played
hard.


Finally, nothing works better to lift a child's spirits
than a pat on the back and a big smile, win or lose. Sport
parents and youth coaches who apply these tips will help
kids learn to keep athletic success and disappointment in
the proper sport perspective.

----------------------------------------------------
"Playing major league baseball - sweet; helping kids,
priceless." Jack Perconte combines his playing, coaching
and parenting experiences to help parents of athletes get
through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack has
written two books - The Making of a Hitter and Raising an
Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and
Inspire a Love of Sport. Jack also blogs to help parents
and kids at
http://positiveparentinginsports.com/

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