I just had a scout tell me my two year old son is going to be a first round draft pick in the year 2030. However, first he is going to have to make it from mite hockey all the way through junior hockey. Back to this in a moment.
Youth athletics can be some of the best years of a child’s life. They’ll make memories, meet new friends and learn values – all positive enhancements in a child’s development. I have been very fortunate to work in a youth sports environment for the past 12 years. (I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up and I wouldn’t change what I do for anything!). I have seen the highs and lows of a child’s development. My experience in the hockey world translates to youth sports and any youth athletic environment. Whether it is hockey, baseball, football, dance, or soccer, parents can all have the same positive or negative effect in their child’s athletic development.
Here are my words of wisdom to parents:
- Do not become the evil of your son or daughter’s youth sport experience.
- Let them develop the love of the game on their own.
- Let their coaches teach them the skills they need and let them know that it is okay to make mistakes.
- Don’t push them or put unnecessary pressure. It saddens me when I see a player make a mistake on the ice and his eyes immediately glare for his parent’s reaction. This will not help your child become a better athlete. It makes them a nervous athlete and has the potential to push him or her away from the sport that they have grown to love.
- When you are driving in the car after baseball, hockey or soccer practice, make your conversation about the positives that he or she did; reflect it to the team (if it is a team sport). Ask them: did you listen to coach when he was correcting you? Did you have fun today?
My point is this: don’t be a coach – they usually have three of them in a team environment. Be a parent and listen to them. Let them love what they are doing.
Okay… now back to my son being a first round draft pick. It probably won’t happen, so I think I would rather him develop a passion for a sport that he is interested in and let him see it through. I think I will support him by driving him to his practices, games and tournaments and let him enjoy his teammates. I want him to learn the values of teamwork and what it takes to accomplish a goal as a team. Children can learn so many lessons from youth athletics that will help them grow and mature. Let’s let them figure it out with our positive guidance and not our negative pressure.
-Authored by Dan Fontas
ELCM Parent / Coach