Wednesday, October 08, 2014

How to handle not making the team.

It is that time of year and you've just found out your kid didn't make the level / team they aspired to. If you're a rational, intelligent human being who views youth sports a social experiment that teaches young kids valuable lessons about teamwork, feedback, adversity, communication, rules, systems, failures & success, you're probably ok with whatever level / team they are on... and by default so are they. If you're an over-invested, egotistical, neurotic, human being who views youth sports as a hierarchical statement of your kid's (and self) worth, you're probably experiencing sleepless nights scrolling through the rosters of those who did make it, wondering how it is even remotely possible  your Johny or Jenny didn't.

As a coach, allow me to share some insights that can help you, and yours... but mostly you, move on. 
  1. Stop comparing. The minute you begin comparing who made it vs. who didn't is the minute you expose your lack of sport IQ. The quickest way to find the answer you seek; ask the coach. Not the parents, not your spouse, friends or Zamboni driver. You'll be surprised to learn that most times, the coach has a plan, system & strategy that may not have anything to do with what you're assuming it does.
  2. Focus on improvements. It's straight out comical how the first questions relate to who made it & who didn't when what they should be asking is "hey coach, can we get candid feedback re: what johhny / jenny can do to improve". If you didn't / don't do this, your athlete may very well repeatedly... miss the opportunity to improve.
  3. Don't think out loud. The worse thing you can do is repeat your illogical rationalization & thoughts in front of your child. Give them a chance to formulate and understand outside of your influence (which likely sounds like - don't worry, coach is an idiot & you're better than x/y/z). Again, this takes the athlete FURTHER away from learning what they need to be successful. You are your kids hero/heroine, understand that responsibility and avoid overcompensating. 
  4. Remember your skill set. Unless you're a professional coach, don't comment on the decision making, methodology and strategy YOU THINK is being deployed by a professional coach. We know it's difficult to differentiate between your glory sport playing days and present reality but there IS a difference that you need to accept & appreciate. Stick to being an awesome parent vs. a shitty parent-coach.
  5. Move on. In every defeat (if that's how you chose to view & define it) lies an opportunity. Have the tough chat, swallow the pride, absorb the lessons and focus on making the best of the situation at hand. Acting the spoiled brat through the duration of the season doesn't move you forward. It sets you back.
Youth sport is a marathon, not a sprint. Stats don't lie when they cite a high % of kids leaving sports in early teen years because they were burned out or not having fun. Stats also point to the real reason why kids quit youth sports and low and behold, that is one area parents excel. The primary responsibility of any good/great coach is to have players complete a season better than they started. The primary responsibility of any good/great parent is to have your kids progress their physical, social, intellectual, emotional & emotional EQ & IQ better than they started.

Let's stay away from being 'that parent'

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