How Can Parents Help Athletes Have Fun?
A sport parent asks:
“My 5-yr-old niece is playing softball and right now she is experiencing issues of not wanting to bat with fear of getting out. It’s real bad and embarrassing, she keeps crying and having tantrums in the dugout. Also today after finally batting, she was on second and was forced out at third, she then had a tantrum right there on the on field. She ran away from the coaches and refused to move. Any help would be appreciated.”
Sports can benefit young kids (ages four to nine) for a variety of reasons, but pressuring them, especially when they’re very young, is a bad idea. It sounds like this child feels pressured.
According to Dr. Ross Flowers, sports give your children not only the opportunity to develop motor and coordination skills, but emotional awareness, analytical reasoning, decision-making skills and many more individual and team-based skill sets.
However, in this case, it’s unlikely she’ll realize these benefits until she starts having fun playing.
To help young athletes have fun, first look at their goals.
Ask them why they want to play, what do they want out of sports?
At such a young age, if they say something like “winning”, or “to be really good,” you’ve got a challenge on your hands.
At such a young age, the only goals for your child should be to have fun with friends.
If they do have expectations like, “I need to be the best,” or, “We need to win,” let them know that all you want from them is to have fun, and you don’t care at all how good they are or how many wins they get.
Treat losses just like you would treat wins, focusing on positive, teamwork-related aspects of the game such as how well your children shared the soccer ball with their teammates or how much fun it looked like they were having.
Michael VJ Stanley, retired college hockey coach and youth sports coach of 30 years, said in an interview with us, “We can’t stress enough how important it is that they be safe and they have fun… When you have a child that age how many times a day do they change their mind?”
If your kids want to try another sport or grow tired of one they are practicing, do not force them to stay in the sport.
This will ruin the fun of the sport for them, and that is all you should be focused on at such a young age.
Seventy percent of children drop out of sports by the age of 15, and many of these drop outs could be avoided if the parents simply remembered that when it comes to sports, fun comes first!
Once your children know that fun comes first, tell them that making mistakes is how they get better, and the sooner they are able to let go of a mistake, the more they are able to improve.
Remind your children once again that sports are supposed to be fun, and mistakes are just a part of the game.
Learn more about how to help kids have more fun by preparing them well for games by checking out our 10-Minute Pregame Prep Program here:
Young athletes, their parents and coaches tell us that sports kids often struggle with these pregame mental game challenges:
- They worry too much about what others think about their performance
- They don’t trust in their skills when they go from practice to competition
- They hang on to mistakes and dwell in them in competition
- They interpret pregame jitters as harmful to their performance
- They feel pressure to excel from expectations they feel from others
- They fail to take charge of their confidence before the compete
- They focus too much on the outcome instead of the process
- They tighten up and play safe when they feel pressure to succeed
“10 Minute Pregame Prep” will tell you everything you need to know about ensuring your sports kids avoid classic mental game pitfalls before a game, learn how to trust their instincts, and just go for it. It provides lots of advice for you, too…
Parents ask us:
“I am more nervous than my son before games. How do I as a parent stay calm and not show I am nervous before games?”
“My challenge is not to talk too much about the upcoming games or what they need to do. I want to psych him up and encourage him but don’t want him to feel that he has to perform perfectly.”
“How do I support my athlete without putting more pressure on him?”
With our program, you can stop wondering what to do and relax before your kids’ games!
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