Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How to Prevent Burnout and Instill Passion

As a youth hockey coach, it’s not unusual for parents to come to me, frustrated and complaining. They’ll say things like, “We’re doing everything- extra practices, private coaching- and my son/daughter just isn’t motivated like he used to be. What’s wrong?” 

Talking to these parents is tough because answering their question typically involves making them see some things they don’t really want to see- like the fact that they’re working their children too hard.

It’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that youth sports are, or at least should be, about fun and growth. They’re not about turning out little professional athletes. Parents like the one who spoke to me are working their kids hard, believing it’s in the child’s best interest, when in reality, they’re causing the very burnout and loss of passion they hope to avoid.

If you’re one of these parents who pushes too hard and expects and demands too much, don’t beat yourself up. It stems from wanting the very best for your child, and fortunately, it’s something you can change…by realizing what is actually best for your child.

What is actually best is being supportive and encouraging but not demanding or harsh and allowing your child to have fun with the sport, instead of treating it like a job. Don’t force your little one into private training and coaching or pressure him or her. If you do that, you’re going to destroy any love of the game the child has.

Though it can be hard to “let go” in this way and to just let your child make his or her own decisions when it comes to sports, it’s actually a really good thing. It will help make your child more independent and confident and can even help him or her to love the sport more.

Plus, believe it or not, adopting this “new and improved” attitude will also help you as a parent. I see it all the time- parents who were formerly stressed out and worried constantly become less stressed and happier and are able to truly enjoy the games and watching their kids play once they learn to let go.

Everybody really does benefit when parents back off and let their kids have their own sports experiences. Remember, it’s not your child’s job to live out YOUR sports dream; your child is his own person, and if you can realize that now, not only will your child have a better, happier relationship with sports, but with you as well.

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