An interesting blog post from “The Ultimate Sports Parents Blog.”
“My young athlete seems to love sports, but just doesn’t apply himself. I remind him every day to practice more and concentrate more, but that doesn’t work. How can I motivate him?”
This is a question we often get from parents. They say their kids love sports, are eager to go to games, but seem to spend a lot of time fooling around during practice. Or they don’t like to practice.
What should parents and coaches do in this case?
First of all, you need to understand why your kids are playing sports in the first place. Keep in mind that they may be participating for different reasons than your reasons for wanting them to participate.
Talk to your kids–and observe them–to better understand why they like playing sports.
They often like participating because they want to be with friends. They like the social aspect and part of being a team. Or they may like competing. Or they may simply like the coach and want to spend time with him or her.
Once you understand why your kids are participating in sports, try to tap into those reasons…
Provide situations that your child will enjoy–playing in the park with friends–if they’re in it for the social aspect, for example. Or you might arrange neighborhood games if your child likes to compete. This will help provide the social support they need.
Be sure to separate your reasons for wanting them to play sports with their reasons for wanting to play…
For example, you may want your kids to play to get exercise. Or you may want them to play because you hope they’ll get a scholarship some day. On the other hand, they may want to play because they like being outdoors after school, or because a best friend is on the team.
Nagging kids to practice can backfire. It won’t support their own reasons for participating in sports. If they succumb to parental pressure, they’ll be playing for you–not for themselves.
That won’t lead to a positive experience. You want the drive to participate to come from within–not from you.
So how do you motivate your young players?