A lot of factors influence how a child feels about sports. Some kids just plain like sports more than others. However, others start out loving sports but, sadly, get that love and passion squelched by their parents, coaches, or trainers. These people have a great impact on a child’s life and on a child’s relationship with sports, and even the most well-meaning coaches, moms, dads, and other influential adults can cause a child to lose confidence and love for a sport he once enjoyed.
Of course, the opposite can also be true. Some parents and other adults are wonderful support systems for young players. They help them not only to love the sport but also to consistently improve and mature as players and as people. Obviously, you want to be the good type of influence for the child in your life, not the bad type, but how do you do that?
Well, to begin with, learn to step back. It is not your job to micromanage every little thing a child does, and being too much of a manager and too critical can actually hinder a child, rather than help him. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t help a young person improve or offer help when needed, but being overly critically and demanding is a surefire way to suck all the fun out of sports.
You also never want to put too much pressure on a child. Pressure isn’t always overt and obvious either. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of getting too excited about wins and too upset about losses. That sends a message to young athletes that they have the power to seriously disappoint people who are counting on them, making them scared of losing, and making a sport they once enjoyed and found a fun a harrowing, stressful and nerve-wracking experience
Focus on letting sports be a fun, beneficial thing for the child in your life, regardless of how well he performs or the outcome of games. Sports are beneficial in and of themselves, and as long as a child enjoys being a part of them, it doesn’t matter how well he does. Encourage your player just to have fun; you can, of course, encourage young athletes to try their best, but don’t push them too hard.
Always be supportive and listen to a young person’s thoughts, feelings, fears, and frustrations with open ears and open arms. Take time out of your busy schedule to practice with the child, to go to games, and to just generally be a supportive, caring influence in his or her life.
Being there for a child is one of the best things you can do, and it costs you nothing but your time. If you can be a supportive influence and follow these simple tips, don’t be surprised when the child in your life soars, develops confidence, and starts to seem a lot happier and healthier.