Do you have a young athlete involved in a community sport or school athletic team? Or perhaps you have a son or daughter thinking about signing up for one?
MichParents can play a critical role in making their child’s experience in sports a positive one, and considering the numbers of young athletes, the level of parental involvement can have a major impact on how children respond to winning and losing on the field and in life.
According to the National Council of Youth Sports, about 60 million children and teens ages 6 to 18 participate in organized sports. Well over half that number participate in more than one sport, and with more and more teams training and competing year-round, positive parental role models are more important than ever.
A child’s participation in youth sports has numerous benefits. It helps young athletes learn to interact with others, build camaraderie, improve skills and learn new ones, be successful and perhaps most importantly have fun.
While parents have a lot to do with supporting their children’s athletic endeavors, by paying for fees or uniforms, transporting them to practices and games, and such, the impact of their positive influence goes well beyond that.
Encourage Fitness For Life
Participating in a sport is an ideal way for children and teens to get their one hour of daily exercise as recommended by the CDC. But when parents actively support those athletic endeavors, it can create a positive connection to physical fitness for the child that can motivate him or her to keep it up for life.
Enhance Listening Skills
While parents may provide the direction for their child to get involved with a team, it’s very important to allow the child to have a voice. Give him or her some space to make decisions about goals, participation and commitment. When parents impose their goals or live vicariously through them, this creates unrealistic expectations, undue pressure and most often results in a negative experience for the child.
Parental support is crucial in a child’s involvement in youth athletics. Providing financial backing and the investment of time are obvious ways. But it also includes verbal encouragement, being at the game, including the child in decisions and challenging growth. Studies indicate, though, that too much or too little involvement results in a negative experience for the child. An all-too-common negative behavior is pressuring the child to win.
Model Good Sportsmanship
Though a child is part of a team or coached by someone other than a parent, he or she is probably watching the parents most critically. All children learn by watching others and modeling the behavior they see. That means a parents’ actions will have the most influence on how their kids interact with coaches, teammates, referees, etc., how they respond to conflict, deal with disappointments and handle constructive feedback even though the coach may be in charge.
Youth coaches have spent time learning about the sport and typically have played it themselves. Rather than sending a child confusing mixed messages, use your feedback as an opportunity to reinforce what the coach is teaching. Younger athletes especially may struggle with remembering all the rules and how to execute their role, so be aware of any frustrations and build on any positive skill progressions..
Give Positive Encouragement
This is more than just yelling “go team!” from the sidelines or telling the child “good job!” after the game. According to studies, when parents focus on the positive skills their children are gaining from team sports, it also helps boost self-esteem and motivation that can transfer to academics, extracurricular activities and interpersonal relationships.
Speedster speed and agility training equipment offers another way for parents to get involved and positively impact their child’s sport experience. Our safe, effective professional training gear has been trusted since 1990 by parents to help boost performance, confidence and abilities when working one on one with their young athletes. To learn more about Speedster and our sport-specific training products, visit speedster.com.