Seeing that we’re just over a week away from games being played we wanted to remind everyone of the important role we play, as parents and coaches, in creating a healthy sports culture for our boys.
Why Do Sports Matter?
Our children are bombarded with pop culture values that most of would probably deem negative ones (popularity, fame, self centeredness, conceitedness, materialism). Sports is among the few places where they can learn positive core values, engage in healthy risk taking, and learn life lessons in a safe environment. At a time when nearly 2/3 of all Americans are already considered ‘overweight’, and some studies project that by 2030 nearly half of Americans will be obese, children need to build the basic skills and confidence to become life long athletes, and learn about the benefits of activity and good nutrition. Yet 70% of kids are dropping out of organized sports by age 13! We need to do more to reverse these alarming, and dangerous trends.
Why Do Kids Play?
According to the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethical Education, research shows that kids play sports for the following reasons:
- To Have Fun (always #1)
- To do something I am good at
- To improve my skills
- To get exercise and stay in shape
- To be part of a team
- Excitement of competition
They do not play to win. They like to win, they enjoy competing, but they do not play to win. They play to have fun, to be with their friends, to feel good about themselves, and because it is exciting. Yet how often do we pick and choose our kids’ sports team because it is the winning team, the winning coach, the defending champion, and assume that because of all the wins everything else just happens? We look at wins and losses, and fail to search for happy faces, and proper developmental environments.
According to Dan Gould at the Michigan State University Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, kids want to have fun, to get better, and to be with their friends. They want parental support and encouragement. They want you to watch them play and praise them for their effort. They want you to be realistic about their ability. And they want you to be present, and interested in what they are doing. They do not want you to yell at their coach, the officials, and them. They don’t want you to put too much pressure on them, or be overly critical. They want the game to be theirs!
Why Do Kids Quit?
Studies also show that kids quit sports for the following reasons:
It is up to us as parents to make sure our children are in sports environments that accentuate the positives, and keep kids in the game. We also must be on the lookout for the items above, making sure that we are communicating with our kids about their experience. It is up to us to ensure that they are having fun, that sports is not overly critical, that they are not afraid, and most importantly, that athletics is fun!
What Can I Do?
Applaud the effort being given and risks being taken by these boys.
Let’s be conscious of our various roles. Coaches need to coach. Family and friends need to support and encourage. Our Bombers Coaches won’t be afraid to ask your son to change his behavior if deemed necessary, so don’t feel the need to jump in the moment you see his mind wandering in the field. All too often before we as coaches get the opportunity to coach, a parent is yelling from the sidelines for their son to “pay attention”. While it would be great if every player would do everything right all the time, let’s be realistic. We’re dealing with kids, ranging in ages from 5 to 10, and mistakes are going to happen. The boys are going to have bad days and good days. Variance is a big part of youth sports and it’s safe to say there won’t be a player on any of our teams that will field every ground ball perfectly or make the correct decision when determining where to go with the baseball.
Confidence: acquiring skill helps a child become confident, and confident children pursue their interest with more vigor, authority, and passion then children who do not believe in themselves. Pay close attention to how your actions (and inactions) affects your child’s confidence.