Five Sports Life Skills EVERY Child Can Master for Sports (and Life) Success
While it is true that a small percentage of parents today view the youth sports experience as a training grounds for a future college athletic scholarship (and possibly a professional sport opportunity), most parents are more grounded with their thinking and set more realistic goals for their kids (The Parents Playbook). For these parents, the ultimate goal is to simply have a positive experience with youth sports, one that will help their children grow in healthy physical and emotional ways. If a college scholarship is eventually awarded to their child, it’s viewed as a “bonus,” and not the final destination after years of competing in youth sports. This, of course, is a very healthy way to approach the youth sport experience, and one that offers the best chance for the child to learn important life lessons as a result.
In order for a family to fully experience all the potential benefits that youth sports provide, I am providing a short list of important learning points to focus on throughout your child’s athletic career so that she will not only play to her highest potential on the field, but also use the sport experience to maximize her overall human development as well:
- Process Goals – Most parents encourage their child to play hard enough to one day become the best kid on the team (or league). There’s nothing wrong with this encouragement, of course, but keep in mind that all outcome goals (like becoming an All Star or team MVP) always begin with process goals. When thinking about process goals, keep in mind these are the types of goals that are fully under the control of the athlete (like maintaining a strength training program, running, mastering plays, etc.). Outcome goals are not completely under the control of the athlete, especially if the goal is to win an award thats voted on by the coaching staff or league.
- Focus – Parents can help their children with focus at very young ages by teaching the basics — like learning how to pay attention to relevant cues (i.e. the next pitch) while ignoring irrelevant cues (i.e. the people in the crowd). The skill of focus is an important one, and can also be transferred to many other areas in life — including the classroom.
- Resiliency – The old saying of “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up” may be one of the greatest lessons that can be learned through sports. Resiliency, or mental toughness, is a terrific skill to help your child master as there are countless sport experiences that involve stress, frustration, adversity, and losing. Resiliency also helps with motivation — another great life success skill!
- Humility – Winning with grace and keeping the ego in check are skills parents can teach their kids through various successful sport experiences. Humiliating, taunting, and embarrassing opponents are never good things – on or off the field.
- Sportsmanship – Similarly to winning with grace, kids can also learn to be good sports during those tough times as well – like after a humiliating loss, or after experiencing a blown call by a referee. Sports, like life, aren’t always “fair,” but what’s most important is to respect the rules and opponent at all times – even when spirits are down.
Sport psychology studies have revealed countless life lessons that can be learned through youth sports, but the five skills presented here are at the top of my list. Conduct your own family audit and see how your gang stacks up — are you fully capitalizing on the youth sport experience, or missing out on some of the big take-aways for your son or daughter?
If you want to help your child get the most out of his or her sport experience but feel you could use some help in accomplishing this task, check out Sport Success 360 and begin setting your family sports goals today!
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