When does supporting your child in sports go too far? Is there anything wrong with trying to live through your Child?
As a young man, my goal was to play professional hockey, in front of 20,000 screaming fans. I had moderate success but time caught up to me and the opportunities slowly passed by.
Now that I am a Dad, I watch pretty intensely as my children play sports. My daughter is involved with Gymnastics and my son will kick a soccer ball all around the yard. One day, my hope is that my Children can take their skills and play professionally or translate it into a College Degree.
The athletes we look up to, the influence of their Dads
Obsessive sports parenting will always be at the forefront at any game or competition. There will always be the parent, yelling louder than anyone else. At the ref, at their child and other children, there is always one. Many professional athletes have notoriously involved sports fathers; Tiger Woods, Mickey Mantle, Patrick O’Sullivan. Two of these athletes went on to Hall of Fame Stardom, the third began a life of abuse. All three had Dads who pushed them from a very young age.
Sports was an important part of my childhood, will it be for my children?
My daughter has just begun getting serious about her gymnastics. She is looking to compete in the competitive division this upcoming year. The price tag for this is quite high and I believe that if she wants to be competitive, she should be encouraged.
As a boy, Gymnastics was not a sport I would have played. My Daughter enjoys it so I find any way I can to get the best out of her. At home, we have handstand and cartwheel competitions. I lose but it is fun. When we get to the gymnastics center though, I find myself turning into a different person.
On the edge of my seat, I watch my Daughter far more intently. As she loses focus on the practice at hand, I find myself taking issue with that.
For the last few months, really since I started DadsRise.com, I have begun approaching my outlook differently.
Here is what I wish I would have known many months before as a Sports Dad.
Encourage but don’t push; keep emotions in check Remember kids are out there to enjoy the game. While some have aspirations of making it professionally or to the Olympics, most just want to play.
If you portray that you aren’t happy with your kids play, they will interpret it as “this game makes my Dad unhappy.”
It’s a process. Kids grow and their abilities grow at different rates. The fastest kid today may not be the fastest kid a month from now. Encourage your child to grow at their own pace rather than comparing them to the other kids.
A child who is in the same league as your own, may hit their “growth spurt” before your kid. The change in their body composition will quickly increase their size and strength.
Support your child, they are not you. Your child loves the game they play for their own reasons. Support them while they are playing it but should they want to walk away, let them.
If your child is playing to satisfy their parents and not themselves, they will no longer enjoy the game.
Chances are greater than not, your kid won’t make the pros. Ok, this one is a little harsh. Don’t consider this an indictment on your child’s ability, statistically speaking your child won’t make it.
Growing up playing hockey, even though I knew the final outcome could be the NHL, every tournament or win felt like my own little Stanley Cup. Some children don’t want to make it professionally, they just enjoy the game because they get to play with friends, that is OK.
Do something else. Being involved with your child is always a positive thing. What happens when the game is no longer played? Is there still stuff to talk about? Find something else to do with your child. Bring them on a nature walk or create a memory that goes beyond the field of play.
The Effect of Pushing Your Children in Sports
According to a poll administered by Stanford University’s non-profit Positive Coaching Alliance, over 70 percent of Children will drop out of their sport by age 13. The majority of these drop-outs are attributed to putting pressure on children to achieve.
Winning isn’t everything for a child. In a 2014 study by the Journal of Physical Activity & Health, a group of kids that played Soccer were asked to rate a group of 81 characteristics of why they played the game. Winning was 48th, there were 47 more important reasons for kids to play the games in their eyes.
As a Sports Dad, these statistics about children playing should be of interest to you. We are pushing our children to win. They are quitting because we are pushing them to win and winning isn’t even a top priority for them.
Kids are expensive. I created DadsRise.com as a means to invest in my Children’s future as well as share the knowledge I have gained with my readers. If you have gained any benefit from the article, consider donating, 100% of the proceeds will be invested in my Children’s future. Every $2 Helps!