Youth Sports

Three Important Steps to Helping Your Child Enjoy the Experience

I am a youth sports coach. I’ve also been a youth sports dad. While every person’s experience may have differences, I believe that there are a few things you can do to help your child enjoy their youth sports experience. Notice that I did not say “succeed” at their youth sports experience. Most of that is up to your child. If they enjoy the experience they will probably continue to play longer, they may work harder to try to achieve certain goals, and this may lead to your child being more successful in one way or another at sports.

I think all parents want their children to succeed, but more importantly they want their children to be happy. Many parents recognize that their child’s success is something the child must accomplish. But some parents think they can dictate, manage, or otherwise guarantee their son or daughter’s success in sports. This will often lead to the opposite result. I’ve seen children who were pushed, pulled, cajoled, or otherwise forced to do sports by their parents. This will often lead to your child rebelling to one extent or another, usually quitting sports at an early age. Studies show that most kids quit sports around the age of 12-14.

One day when we went for practice for one of my daughter’s teams, there was a coach working with a young girl on her pitching. Our coach told us that the girl was that coach’s daughter. Our coach also told us that this man had another daughter who had been a very good pitcher. She apparently had multiple scholarship offers and could basically write her own ticket. After she graduated from high school, she quit softball. She blew off all of these opportunities. And she told her father than she hated softball and only continued because of him.

That day I told my daughter if you ever do that to us we would have one hell of a battle. I told her that if she ever decided that she didn’t want to play softball any more she should feel free to say so. Would it have disappointed my wife and I if she had quit earlier? Sure. We loved to watch her play. We loved the game. We loved the experience. Even with some of the negatives that occurred over the years, there were far more positives, fun trips, memorable games, etc.