Playing the sport game
Spring means Little League, soccer and other sports as kids head outdoors to join teams that help them have fun, exercise and learn to work together with their teammates. But are the results of joining a team always positive? Can’t the experience be embarrassing, embarrassing, or unrewarding?
Yes, playing as a team has the potential to be positive or negative, fun or frustrating, valuable or harmful. Parents concerned about the effects of sports programs on their children should be aware of several guidelines that will help their children have the best possible summer sports experience.
Baseball, softball, soccer, horseback riding, swimming, hockey, or volleyball – no matter the sport. The guidelines for parents remain the same. To show support for your child while encouraging and teaching him, consider the following:
1. Find out who will train your child. Has the league conducted background checks on coaches? Sadly, in these times the person you least expect can be a predator. Trust but verify. Is the coach a cheerleader or a screamer? Does he or she focus primarily on winning or on participation and teamwork? Do you let everyone play at least half the game? Do you allow team members to play different positions or are kids pigeonholed in one position all season?
2. Make sure your child is competing at his skill level. Is she overriding, riding a horse too hot to handle? Is a travel team in over her head or is it a fitting challenge? Are all of your child’s teammates bigger, stronger, and more skilled? It’s no fun for kids to compete when their chances of success are slim. Instead of pushing them to ride the newest horse or join the travel team, encourage them to find fun at a level where they can be successful.
3. Learn the rules of the game. The youth rules are not always the same as the professional rules. More knowledge equals less frustration and less yelling at officials, players and coaches.
4. Remember that winning is only one of the goals of the competition. Keep it in perspective. Winning is important. Everyone likes to win. However, playing to one’s ability, putting in a lot of effort, exhibiting good sportsmanship, improving one’s skills, playing within the rules, and learning to lose gracefully are just as valuable as winning. The lessons your child gets to learn when he doesn’t win may be more valuable than winning that particular game.
5. Respect other attendees. This includes coaches, officials, and other team members. Cheer on members of the other team when they make a good play. Applaud the winning swimmer. Praise other athletes in front of their parents.
6. Hold on to your temper. Model restraint for your young athlete. Yes, go for it, but channel that excitement into cheers and applause. Staying home is an option to consider if you lose control and occasionally berate officials or disrespect other bystanders.
7. Chorus of shouts from the sides or the stands. Players are too busy to process and integrate all the advice people yell at them from the sidelines, even if it is solid and can be useful. Often they don’t even listen to you. Check it out. Go out on the field and have a parent yell at you. See how easy it is to follow his instructions. That experience will cure you of shouting advice from the sidelines.
8. Get involved. Volunteer. The trainer is spending a lot of time and energy training his son. He helps out by organizing treats and carpools after the game and helping with the fundraiser. Give a hand in practice if you feel qualified and the coach approves.
9. Praise your child for his efforts. Steer clear of evaluative praise like “great job,” “great game,” and “great pass.” Instead, give important feedback using descriptive or appreciative praise. Descriptive praise describes what was accomplished. “You skewered that pass right between the two defenders,” “Your decision to take the extra base ended with a big run scored,” and “You seemed to stay focused after your horse traded the lead” are all examples of praise he describes. . Appreciative praise indicates the effect the child’s behavior had on the team. “Your pass gave him the perfect opportunity to score” and “The way you were cheering on your teammates got everyone excited” are examples of appreciative praise. Descriptive and appreciative praise will leave room for your child to do the evaluation.
10. Resist the temptation to criticize your child. Improvement is more likely in an atmosphere of positive encouragement. Often with positive intentions, parents inform children of their mistakes and how they can improve. This feedback is usually unnecessary, as children are often self-aware of their mistakes. They do not need parents to make a verbal list of mistakes in order to correct them. They need you to be there and allow them to play and have fun.
11. Congratulate the officers. Most of the officials are volunteers or older children who work for minimal compensation. They are also learning. Even if you think an official made a bad decision during the game, you can comment on their hard work. Say something positive to the officials and let your child listen to you.
12. Encourage other children. Focusing solely on your child sends the message that you don’t care about the team or the event. It tells others that you are only there for your child. Congratulate players when they are substituted in and out of the game. Applaud their achievements.