It has been awhile since I have blogged, but with Little League, softball, lacrosse, and flag football underway, what better time to pick it up again! With all theses sports leagues beginning, there are a lot of new coaches, teammates, and parents to get used to. As a parent, you are able to see how your child has grown over the last year as well as the competition. While I am still a couple years away from my son playing organized sports (I can’t wait for it though!), I was reminiscing about my “glory days” and and what it was like for me at 9-10 years old. Back then, the only thing on my mind was making it to the NBA. I would be outside in the driveway shooting hoops with my brother every day before and after school. I would watch the Lakers play at 7:30 after dinner and dream about playing in The Forum with Chick Hearn announcing, “The game's in the refrigerator, the door's closed, the light's out, the eggs are cooling, the butter's getting hard, and the Jello's jiggling.”
When I had games after school or on the weekends, I felt a ton of pressure to perform, to get the most out of the work I put in that week, and to be one week closer to my goal of the NBA. After awhile, the game stopped being fun, I became burnt out, and my passion waned in high school, resulting in me becoming a shell of what I could have been. I always felt like I had to play a perfect game. I couldn’t miss free throws, I couldn’t have any turnovers, and I had to score 20 points with 7 assists. In 4th grade, most teams only score 30 points a game so that was already impossible! I put so much pressure on myself to hit these milestones, that it actually limited my ability to play. Many games, I played tentatively and nervously. And then if I played poorly, the coach would take me out and then I was even further away from my goals.
What I’ve realized years later, is that basketball became a job for me at such an early age that some, not all, of the joy was stripped from it for me. As kids, we put pressure on ourselves. There is personal pressure, peer/social pressure because all of their friends are talking about the games on Monday morning, and the pressure to not disappoint our parents and coaches. It forces them to freeze in the moment, do something comfortable, rather than something uncomfortable and grow in the process. So what can we do as parents to relieve this pressure?
1. Encourage the fun. This is why we play the game in the first place. In the grand scheme of things, the score of a youth game, heck, any game for that matter, is so unimportant. Our kids play to have fun and grow as human beings. Let fun be the driver behind the game.
2. Help them develop a short memory. The best players have very short-term memories. They forget the mistake the play they made before and move onto the next play. If you don’t flush the mistake you made on the last play, there is a high probability that you will make another mistake soon after.
3. Improve their confidence. Help them understand, that sports are a process. It takes years of dedication and discipline. Focus on the improvements and celebrate those, not necessarily the wins as much. If we stay level headed after both wins and losses, never getting too high or too low, their confidence will improve and the pressure will decrease.
At Next Level, we offer campers to improve their games or try new sports in pressure-free and positive environments with the best coaches the 805 has to offer. Come learn from pro athletes and college, high school, and club coaches. We have been through it all and want to share our knowledge with your child! Camp will run July 15-19, 2019. Sign up today to reserve your spot!