Updated 23rd February 2023
The responsibilities of parents in youth sports are often misunderstood, leading to missed opportunities for creating positive experiences for their children. While not all parents fall into this category, many can relate to some degree. It’s natural for parents to want the best for their child in both life and sports, but there are various ways to express this desire, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. It’s not uncommon for parents to assume that their child will follow in their footsteps and participate in sports, especially if they have a background in sports themselves. However, it’s important to remember that every child is unique and has their own interests and passions.
Unfortunately, some parents take for granted that their child will automatically enjoy and excel at sports, and even demand that they participate. This can put undue pressure on the child and cause them to feel resentful or disengaged from sports altogether. Additionally, assuming that a child will automatically want to play sports because their parent did can also create an unfair comparison between the child and the parent. If the child doesn’t share the same natural talent or love for the sport, they may feel inadequate or like they’re letting their parent down.
It’s crucial for parents to approach sports with an open mind and let their child explore their own interests and passions. Encouraging them to try different activities and exposing them to various sports can help them find something they truly enjoy and want to pursue.
Parents should also be mindful of the pressure they may unintentionally place on their children to participate in sports. Rather than forcing them to play, it’s important to have open and honest communication about the child’s interests and goals and to support them in their choices, whatever they may be.
Meet Tom, a father of two, who was an avid football player in his youth. He believes that sports are an excellent way for children to learn teamwork, discipline, and perseverance, and he wants his children to have the same experiences that he had. His daughter, Sarah, and his son, Michael, both played football when they were young, and Tom was heavily involved in their sports activities, from coaching their teams to attending every game.
One day, Tom noticed that Michael was no longer interested in Football. When Tom noticed that his son, Michael, was no longer interested in football, he was initially disappointed. Tom had always believed that sports were an important part of growing up, and he had hoped that his children would share his passion for football. He couldn’t understand why Michael would suddenly lose interest in something that had been such a big part of their family life and his own life.
Tom’s disappointment quickly turned to frustration, and he found himself pushing Michael to continue playing football, hoping that he would eventually regain his love for the sport. However, the more Tom pushed, the more resistant Michael became. It wasn’t until Tom took a step back and began to reflect on his own experiences that he started to understand his son’s point of view.
As Tom thought back on his own time playing football, he realised that his passion for the sport had come from within himself. It wasn’t something that had been forced upon him by his parents or anyone else. He began to see that Michael needed to find his own path and his own passions, even if they didn’t align with his own.
Tom began to empathise with Michael and understand that his son was his own person with his own interests and passions. He realised that it was important to let Michael make his own decisions when it came to sports, just as he had done when he was younger.
Tom learned to appreciate his children’s individuality and to support them in their own pursuits, whether it involved in sports or not. He recognised that while sports had played a significant role in his own life, it didn’t have to be the same for his children. By allowing his children to make their own choices, he was able to foster a sense of independence and self-confidence in them, which would serve them well in all areas of their lives.
It is crucial to understand that regardless of whether you have played a sport at any level, it’s essential to distinguish between the past and present when it comes to youth sports. It is important to allow children to learn and grow at their own pace. Adopting an “I played, so you must play” mentality and placing undue pressure and expectations on your child to succeed may result in a negative environment for the child. This could ultimately have severe consequences for your child’s enjoyment and success in sports. Therefore, as parents, it is vital to support and encourage our children while also allowing them to discover their passion for sports at their own speed.
Remember – Educating the parents is a process, it will NOT happen overnight.
The biggest lesson of this blog is that parents must be mindful of the pressures they may unintentionally place on their children to participate in sports. Every child is unique, with their own interests and passions, and parents must approach sports with an open mind and let their child explore those interests. Encouraging them to try different activities and exposing them to various sports can help them find something they truly enjoy and want to pursue. It’s also important to have open and honest communication about the child’s interests and goals and to support them in their choices, whatever they may be.
Parents can foster a sense of independence and self-confidence in their children, which will serve them well in all areas of their lives. Parents must also be aware of the negative consequences of forcing their child to participate in sports, and should not adopt an “I played, so you must play” mentality. It’s a process to educate parents about the responsibilities they have in youth sports, but it’s essential to do so for the benefit of the child.
While it’s natural for parents to want to share their love of sports with their children, it’s important not to assume that they will automatically enjoy or excel at it. Parents should be mindful of their expectations and be supportive of their child’s unique interests and passions, whether that involves sports or not. Ultimately, it’s about creating an environment where the child feels empowered to explore their own path and make their own choices.
Let each player enjoy the game.
The Sporting Resource