“Seeing Sports from Both Sides of the Fence”
(by: Scott Steiner, LYSA EB Member)
When it comes to sports, especially at the Youth level (ages 14 and under), it becomes imperative to keep in mind “things may seem greener on the other side of the fence”, but this is most likely not the case at all. What I mean by this is, it is very easy to get lost in the win-loss column of the respective team, as opposed to how your child is developing in both their skillset of the chosen sport, as well as their love or fondness for the game. Having coached now for over 10 years across many sports (Baseball, Softball, Soccer and Football), I have seen kids pushed into sports in which they only have a fair fondness of and also, are not as skilled as others around them, making the sport more of a chore than something they do with great love. I experienced this with my own kids at times. I have also been the parent sitting on the sideline watching my child participate in the sport, some times with mixed emotions about whether or not they are being treated fairly and/or taught the fundamentals of the sport in the right manner.
In this day and age, with athletes receiving enormous salaries and with the cost of secondary education skyrocketing, the importance of succeeding at sports is placed under an even more intense microscope. Moreover, with athletes being hailed as heroes and demigods in today’s society, parents & athletes alike often place too much pressure and emphasis for the child/athlete to succeed at any cost. Often, because of this, many times it’s the parents who choose to live vicariously through their child, while pushing the child/athlete to somewhat extreme limits and also, sometimes berating the coach for not recognizing the talent their son or daughter possess and is capable of with some coaching. Parents can get lost in the dilemma of whether their child is on a team with a winning record, as opposed to a team with a positive learning environment, which is teaching your child the fundamentals of the game and taking the time to explain what they’re doing is incorrect and taught the right way.
The flip side to this are those coaches who have blinders on and only see the star athletes on the team or their child, as opposed to those who can grow into very good athletes with the right coaching and a boost of confidence. I have seen my share of coaches who yell at the athlete for doing something incorrectly, but they never take the time to show them the right way to do it. These are also the same coaches who feel it is more important to yell and intimidate the athletes to provide the needed motivation for the athlete. What I’ve learned through the years though is by simply yelling at the athlete without correcting the problem will only lead to more problems again further down the road. This also leads to an athlete who suffers from a confidence problem or lack thereof. As any good coach can attest, all sports are 90% mental and the remaining 10% are the physical skills each athlete possesses. Without the mental capacity and confidence to compete, your child will never succeed in sports at any level, especially during the early years of the learning process.
At LYSA we are very adamant about providing a teaching environment and this is one of the reasons we have also looked at several “positive coaching” programs to be instilled in each of the respective sports. At the end of the day, it’s very important to make sure the child/athlete really enjoys their respective sport and to make sure the coaches understand the various motivational tactics each of their player’s needs to stay focused on their position and what is required. Lastly, though as a parent, you need to make sure your child is happy playing their chosen sport and allow the coaches the room to discover what type of team they have and to support them in their seasons, win or lose. At the end of the day, I can assure you, the majority of the kids can’t tell you score of the game or what their record is, but just the fact they had fun playing the game. Thanks for reading and I hope everyone will share their opinions with me when I see you out on the field. Have a great & happy year….SCOTT STEINER
The best sport for a child is one that the youngster finds fun and interesting. To encourage a healthy and active lifestyle, you might casually expose your child to a variety of physical activities and let the child's desires and abilities act as a guide to further commitment.
Spend some one-on-one time with your child practicing and learning different sports and recreational activities. Don't limit instruction to one area; instead allow your child the freedom to try different sports.
If your child is interested in a particular sport, check out the programs available at school, through your city's parks and recreation association, religious organizations or civic clubs. And, make sure the youngster has the proper equipment for the sport — equipment that fits properly, is in good condition and has all the appropriate safety features.
A child is likely to enjoy a sport more if allowed to learn in a relaxed atmosphere while having fun and receiving support and encouragement from adults. Athletics for youngsters should be thought of as a means of entertainment and recreation. Adults shouldn't pressure a young child to focus only on winning even if exceptional promise is shown.
Even a young athlete who might show natural talent in a particular sport must work hard and show dedication in order to succeed. Almost any child, even if less skilled than his or her peers, can improve with positive support and coaching. Keep in mind, however, that enrolling your child in an organized sport is also a commitment on your part. Your child will need appropriate equipment, transportation and, of course, your support.
Getting Started with Sports
No matter what a child's interests are — baseball, tae kwon do, swimming or running — your child is likely to find a sport that he or she enjoys. And, whether your child chooses an individual or team sport, the health and fitness benefits associated with physical activities are the most obvious. By practicing good fitness and eating habits early in life, a child can increase the chances of growing into a healthy adult. Sports participation can motivate the couch potato, occupy the child who has idle time, minimize the habits of the fast-food junkie and relieve stress. Plus, the personal and emotional rewards can last a lifetime — self-esteem, social skills and dedication.
Reaping the Rewards
Your child will need you more than ever for support and advice in weathering the ups and downs that go along with sports. To help your youngster build confidence and have fun, try to be actively involved in your child's endeavor and keep a good attitude. If your child becomes involved in an organized or team sport, make every effort to attend the practices and games.
In organized sports, teach your child that involvement means certain responsibilities are required — for one's self and towards other participants. Encourage your child to give activities the best effort possible, to be responsible and to respect teammates, coaches and opponents — valuable lessons in sports as well as in life.
When learning a sport, mistakes are inevitable. Parents and coaches can lower the stress level by calmly pointing out that mistakes are opportunities for valuable feedback on areas for improvement. Adults involved in children's sports also should avoid pushing too hard, overprotecting or academically delaying a child for competitive reasons.
A child learns by example. Much of what is seen and heard, and how the child is treated — on the field and off — can have lasting effects. An atmosphere that is fun and educational is likely to promote healthy self-esteem in youngsters, just as a negative and critical climate can have adverse effects. To promote an enjoyable environment, help your child follow a philosophy of "fair play."
Fair play also applies to parents and coaches.
Fair Play in Sports
Some things for players to keep in mind:
* Enjoy the game!
* Respect teammates, as well as opponents, whether they are winning or losing.
* Remember that the outcome is never as important as the lasting impression of warmth, understanding and pure enjoyment of playing.
* Remember that scoring is most thrilling when it rewards a true achievement.
* Recognize that playing to win is an essential component of competition, but seeking victory at any cost defeats the true meaning of competition.
* Show respect for the referees, umpires and judges at all times, and accept their decisions in a dignified manner.
* Lose gracefully, as well as win gracefully.
* Try your best.
Some things for parents to keep in mind:
* Understand that your child will make mistakes.
* Provide transportation to and from all practices and games or meets, and ensure your player is prompt not only in arriving, but also in departing.
* Attend practices and games or meets if your schedule allows. Lend the players your support in a positive manner. Emphasize their accomplishments and efforts.
* Make sure your child never talks with, or leaves with, strangers.
* Have your youngster bring the required equipment to and from all games and practices.
* Practice with your child.
* Avoid material rewards. Stress the joy of the sport.
* Listen. Make your child feel important and encourage contribution to a team effort.
* Be positive and don't criticize. If your child is not performing correctly or improving, suggest an alternate technique with the coach's guidance, such as, "That's pretty good, now how about trying it this way?"
* Be graceful — and not boastful — when your child's team wins.
* Be positive and provide encouragement when your child's team loses or your child fails to place.
* Make fun and technique-development top priorities when practicing.
* Support your child's coach and, before being asked, offer to help in any way possible.
* Don't disagree with the coach or referees on the field or in front of your child. Questions, input and positive suggestions should be discussed privately and calmly.
* Enjoy the excitement of the sport and the opportunity to be with your child.
Some things for coaches to keep in mind:
* Have fun!
* Keep winning and losing in perspective.
* Stress the players' appreciation of the game or activity.
* Allow players or participants to try a variety of positions or events.
* Utilize safe techniques and proper methods of play.
* Supervise and control players to avoid injury and conflict.
* Strive to maintain integrity within the sport.
* Know, understand and follow all the rules and policies set forth by clubs, leagues, state and national associations. Remember, the coach has final responsibility for the team and players.
* Encourage moral and social responsibility in players.
* Allow players to have fun, and give them positive feedback.
* Require a parents-only meeting at the beginning of each season and encourage attendance and positive participation. Be sure parents understand your philosophy and rules, and that everyone is sending a consistent message to the players.