It is extremely common for parents of athletes to have no, or to lose, patience when it comes to dealing with their kids sports performances. Often, they do not understand why their child does not have success. Having patience with youth in sports is a lot like keeping a good sports perspective for parents of athletes. Parents have it until their own child is involved.
Most parents display patience and perspective with other people's kids, but with their own children, patience and perspective are lost. Subsequently, they display this loss with often-regrettable words or actions. "I can't believe you did that" or "That was embarrassing" are parental statements that speak of their displeasure. Kicking the dirt, rolling the eyes, looking away and ignoring their child are often completed parental actions, when kids do not perform up to their parents' expectations. Unfortunately, it only takes one or two of these inappropriate words or displays to shape a child's future in sports. Often, unbeknownst to adults, these negative incidents start to decrease children's desire to play sports.
Obviously, everyone has different levels of patience but it something that parents can improve upon with the proper sports perspective. Having a good perspective can help parents to develop and display the necessary patience so that kids have the positive sporting experience they deserve.
A good, positive youth sports perspective begins with the following understandings:
1. Sport skill proficiency is difficult and gets more difficult as an athlete moves up the sports ladder.
2. Just because a sport skill appears easy, especially on TV, does not mean it is easy.
3. Just because the parent were good at something does not automatically make their child good at it.
4. Players, who choose not to practice, are usually not having fun playing that sport. The lack of fun could be because
a) they are not having success
b) coaches and/or parents do not know how to make practice fun
c) they just are not into it for reasons beyond a parent's control
5. Pushing kids to practice more usually kills any chance that they will like the sport more down the line. Suggesting they practice and helping them understand that good results only come with practice is OK and necessary, though.
6. Players will not automatically be able to do something just because you tell them to or just because you point out what they are doing wrong. Their muscle memory must change through fundamental repetition.
7. Using words that describe the action is better than indicting a player them self. For example, "Your swing is incorrect"--is better than saying, "You will never be any good if you keep doing it that way."
8. Negative actions and facial expressions are as detrimental as words.
9. People, who display patience when working with kids, generally develop patient athletes who understand it takes time to be successful.
10. Expectations should be reasonable. Watching for and pointing out gradual signs of athletic improvement, even when results are not there, displays the patience that pays off in the end.
11. Long-range goals are better than short-range goals.
Many of these are common sense points that most parents feel like they adhere too. As mentioned, the problem is that most parents do not realize that their demeanor, words and actions change when dealing with their own kids in sports. It takes a lot of will power to change or to adhere to these suggestions.
"Playing major league baseball - cool; helping kids - priceless."
Jack Perconte helps kids and their parents get through the complicated world of youth sports. He shares his playing, coaching and parenting experiences in his books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport. Learn more at