As my children enter the world of youth sports, I am now faced with seeing sports from the perspective of a parent versus the one I have been used to for over 20 years—that of a coach. Now, I would be lying if I did not say that I have found this to be a bit challenging at times. However, in the short period of time, I have also found it to be very rewarding.
As most parents do, I have found myself not only reflecting on my youth sports days, but also on how my parents did what they did. As I look back, I truly believe that how my parents were and what they instilled in me is a major reason I achieved any success that I have.
This month, I would like to share with readers the key things my parents did for me in my youth sports days. They:
- Gave me the opportunity to try various sports.
- Taught me loyalty—In whatever sport I was participating, they showed my coaches loyalty by not jumping around in search of the “secret recipe” that no one else was getting. This, in turn, created more loyalty and trust in the coaches.
- Allowed coaches to coach—They also taught me that it was ok for them to push me, for they also knew that same coach would pick me up and hug me when needed.
- Made ice cream the focus of post-game car rides—The car rides home were not about the strikeouts, missed forehands, or missed shots on goal. They were about what flavor ice cream I was going to get.
- Based their expectations on my effort—The expectations they had for me were strictly about giving 100% and never giving up, never about winning or losing.
- Allowed us to be kids—They encouraged me and my friends to be kids and have fun, win or lose, not rehash games or talk about other players.
- Stressed academics—They had high standards for my grades, though they completely understood the importance of balance.
- Taught me that hard work is part of the process—and not always fun.
- Taught me that, whatever happened, it was about me and not them.
Now, it’s important to share here that both my parents were very-high-level athletes and both achieved success on the highest levels. So, they truly knew sports through their own experiences. Also, it is important to share that, through the above, the journey took me from entry-level sports to the opportunity to compete at the highest levels in not one, but three sports.
My point here is simple: I ask you to just think about the points above. I was not one of the high percentage that quit sports by the age of 13, and I was a multi-sport athlete. It did not hurt me or, for that matter, any of my friends. In fact, many went on to compete on the collegiate level in various sports.
As I have stated in several of my articles, there are always exceptions. The key is that we need to continue to look at the masses and strive to improve their experiences while allowing them to learn and grow. If we can do that, we will lower the percentage of kids who quit sports at a young age and, in turn, make for a healthier society.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for teaching me these things and instilling them in me. It is now my turn to try to do the same for my kids and hopefully impact a few readers along the way.❦