For most parents, the ultimate goal of youth sports is to have a positive experience, one that will help their children grow in healthy physical and emotional ways.
The Blog, “The Sports Doc Chalk Talk by Dr. Chris Stankovich” offers this short list of important learning points to focus on throughout your child’s athletic career so that he/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.
Dr Stankovich suggest you conduct your own family audit and see how your gang stacks up.
Please share other ideas here.