It’s an emotional experience watching your son on stage. Whether he’s starring in a class play, singing in a concert or standing at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs; it’s gut wrenching sometimes as a parent in these situations.
We all want to see our kids succeed and while failing is an important part of growing up, it’s natural for us as parents to hope our kids experience more successes than failures in life.
An important part of being a good sports parents is simply acknowledging these emotions exist and that it’s alright. However, how we deal with these emotions can ultimately be the make or break moment in our children enjoying their youth sports experience.
Here are a few tips to improve your son’s experience and likely to make your life on the sidelines a little easier as well:
1.) Cheer for every child. Get to know your son’s teammates names and numbers so when you feel inclined to vocalize your support and encouragement you’re able to support the entire team and not just your son. The Bombers Baseball program will be teaching the value of teamwork, so having parents that support the entire team will reinforce this to the kids.
2.) Maintain an even keel. It’s easy to scream and cheer when the boys go up 5-0 in the top of the 1st inning. But I can tell you firsthand from standing in the outfield with the boys during a game, they can truly feel the awkward quietness that comes when they are on the other side of a bad inning. Remember, winning that particular game is not the ultimate goal when it comes to youth baseball. Making sure the kids have a good time and learn something are the most important goals. The last thing we want is for a kid to be standing on the field thinking he has failed.
To maintain an even keel, resist excessive criticism. If a kid messes up, he knows it. Pointing it out in front of everyone, even if doing so in the most instructive way, isn’t going to help that kid’s mental state or make him a better player by the next inning. Coaches should wait until the player comes off the field and parents should wait until the game is over. Candidly, unless your son brings it up, the parent bringing up the missed ground ball in the 2nd inning doesn’t do much good. If your son struggled in that particular game, what he needs most is your unconditional love.
3.) Acknowledge an outstanding play or effort from the opposing team. You say what? Cheer for the other team? That’s exactly what I’m supporting. Coaches can set the tone by shaking opposing players’ hands, helping them up if they are injured or telling them that they did something well. Most times parents will pick up on this and will join in. Soon, the players on the team will follow suit, giving the team a reputation for good sportsmanship. Like teamwork, winning and losing graciously is a lesson that carries over throughout our lives and can earn us a tremendous amount of respect from our peers.
4.) Define success based on the inputs, not the outputs. The Bombers Baseball program promotes long term athletic development. What this means is kids in the program will be coached, taught and developed with the big picture in mind. Incremental improvement from practice to practice, game to game is the objective. Winning and losing will not be the focus game to game, but competing and giving maximum effort will be a top priority.
Competitiveness is a productive athletic mode, an even-keeled mindset that an athlete can develop early. In contrast, winning a game is a fleeting, at times fortuitous, isolated outcome of a variety of factors never entirely under a competitor’s control – sometimes only good fortune or a favorable match-up is the winning determinant. Winning comes and goes; competitiveness endures. Unfortunately, though, whenever winning is over-emphasized in youth sports, competitiveness is frequently seen as the culprit. Competition itself is not the problem; mistaking it for a win-or-we-failed coaching philosophy is.
Competition, particularly in youth sports, often has a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t. All athletes need to develop a healthy sense of competition. Competing and winning are not the same, but some youth sport communities seem to think a competitive league must be a win/loss league. It’s seen as an all-or-nothing choice. The problem is, the transition from “nothing” one year to “all” the next can be emotionally shocking for the unprepared young athlete. Athletes who are properly taught to compete are better equipped to process both victory and defeat. And over time, they’ll experience their fair share of both and enjoy the competitive process along the way.
As a parent you’ll have ample opportunity to reinforce this philosophy. Help your son embrace competition and measure success by one’s ability to consistently give their best effort in practice and games.
ONE LAST THOUGHT – After every game tell your son – “I really enjoy watching you play and compete with your teammates”. Share this with your son regardless if they went 0-4 and made three errors or played their best game of the year.