Sunday, January 10

How To Be A Better Sports Parent

One of my favorite memories of childhood was playing youth league sports. What's not to like? It's playing a sport with your friends. I was fortunate to have parents that let me enjoy myself and didn't put pressure on me to win, but not everyone can be so lucky.

Fortunately, for those parents that might be a little more into the games, sport psychology coach Dr. Rob Bell, along with Bill Parisi, have authored the book Don’t Should On Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness to provide tips and advice for not just parents, but anyone in a leadership role.

Why does it seem like parents have gotten even more involved and intense in the past decade or two?

"There's a lot more financial investment, a lot more emotional investment," Dr. Bell says. "Parents want that return on investment."

Among the tips Dr. Bell recommends is to remember that no athlete is perfect. There will always be disappointment, but that just makes the successful moments that much sweeter.

"Every athlete I've ever worked with, every single one," says Dr. Bell, "has choked at some point. That's the only way you can really be great. It's not about the setback, it's about the comeback."

And when a child does make a mistake during a game, don't let it ruin the car ride home. Emotions are running high, after all.

"Do not have that conversation in the car ride home," he said. "Set up designated times where everyone is cool, calm and collected, whether it's after dinner or when you get home. The conversation will be much better for everyone."

Finally, make sure everyone's heart is in the right place. When I worked at a basketball camp, there were a handful of kids who clearly didn't want to be there. It wasn't fun for anyone, and I hope those parents realized the dissatisfaction of their children. Be cognizant of your child's best interests.

"You can't want it more than them," he says. "If you want it more than your son or daughter, the motivation's wrong."

If you're a coach, consider Don’t Should On Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness for the parents of every athlete. And if you're a parent that may just be a bit too invested, learn how to make sports even more enjoyable for both yourself and your child.

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