Between tryouts, practices and games, youth athletes spend much of their spare time on the field or court. During that time, they not only learn the ins and outs of their sport, but they also learn valuable lessons that can help them be successful in everyday life.
If your child is late to practice or a game, their coach may make them run laps or do a drill to make up for lost time. This lesson instills that there are consequences to being late—which holds true outside of the sports world.
During practices and games, athletes must battle both mental and physical obstacles in order to play their best. Overcoming obstacles such as injuries or bouncing back from a hard loss teaches them about the power of never giving up.
In certain situations, athletes learn to put the team's interests before their own —whether that means passing the ball instead of taking a shot or letting a teammate take their place on the field. This selfless attitude will be important in their future professional and personal lives.
While coaches play the most instrumental role in teaching young athletes these lessons, it's also critical for parents to take part and use sports as a way to teach their athletes how to act like a champion on and off the field. Below, we have included a few ways that parents can teach their kids these lessons:
- Model humility: Show your kids how to be humble through your actions.
- Teach that there is no "I" in team: Remind your athlete that a team's successes and failures ride on the entirety of the team, never one player.
- Resist showing special treatment: Hold your athletes to the same standards as your non-athletes, both at home and at school.
- Remind them of their responsibility as leaders: Many times, other kids (at school or in the neighborhood) look up to athletes, so make sure your child knows that their peers are looking up to them to help them set a good example for others.
- Reinforce the importance of balance: While being passionate about sports is great, making sure their life isn't entirely focused around sports helps create a much needed balance.
- Praise them and their teammates: When praising your child on their efforts, make sure to also compliment their teammates; this helps reinforce the no "I" in team mantra.
- Don't support the "victim mentality": Making sure your child knows that blaming others, like the referee or another teammate, won't change the outcome of a situation.
- Emphasize the value of respect for everyone on the field: Teach your child that everyone deserves the same respect (from referees, to teammates, coaches and the other team), regardless if a bad call was made or someone messed up a play, to instill respect in their character at a young age.
Next time you're on your feet cheering for an exciting touchdown, an amazing soccer goal, an unbelievable volleyball dig or a great throw-down from home plate, you can also be cheering for the fact that your athlete is just as good on the field as they are off the field.
Find activities for kids near you.