My kids participate in a different sport every season, including, soccer, basketball, softball and swimming. They love all of these sports and I love that they are exercising, setting goals, making friends, learning the value of team unity, and being coachable.
We had a busy sports schedule this past weekend. I was reflecting our role, as parents, in our kid’s athletics. It caused me to come up with a list of parenting lessons that I have picked up over the years as my kids have participated on different teams.
I have either figured some of these lessons out myself, learned from an older parent whose already been through the ringer, or learned from my own parents. Hope you enjoy the list and maybe gain at least one or two nuggets to put in your parenting arsenal.
1. Be a Support to your kids
2. Keep their sports equipment organized in separate bags for each sport. Its so much easier to find the baseballs in the baseball bag and the tennis balls in the tennis bag, rather than running around last minute trying to locate an item.
3. Do not give them tips on their upcoming game or meet – that is what their coaches are for, not the parents
4. For a long game or meet, pack a cooler with some fruit, sandwiches, Caprisuns or Gatorades, granola bars and crackers. Kids love having a cooler full of treats at the ready for them in between events.
5. Realize that a particular sport is a long term event. You want your kids to love the sport for the rest of their lives. You do not want them to do too much, too early and risk burnout.
6. It is not nearly as important how your kids perform when they are 7 years old as it is how they perform in high school. You want them to still like the sport when they finally enter high school.
7. Rotate sports by season until they are in high school, when I think it is appropriate to start specializing.
8. Do not go “year around” in any sport until your child is in high school. This is tempting, because you think your child will be at a disadvantage. The truth is, if your child is going to be good at a sport, they will be good whether they do it year around early on, or wait until high school. Trust me.
9. Learn from the wisdom of older parents who have already been through the rigors of raising athletes. Take their advice. Do not ignore it.
10. Instead of focusing solely on reaching a time standard or making it to the championship game, focus instead on continual improvement of technique and constant fun.
I think if I could pass on one piece of advice it would be #6 above. If we remember that we want our kids to love these sports long term, we will not overdo early on. It is so important to heed the warnings of older parents who have witnessed burnout at the age of 12. Very, very sad.
Keep it fun, light, and take breaks! Sports are awesome. Promote the life long love of exercising and training to improve your performance. This will benefit our kids for many decades to come.