MARK YOUR CALENDAR! There will be an important informational meeting for all parents of student-athletes who will be participating in a sport at 6:30 p.m. in the Ashland High School Theater:
Fall: August 11th Winter: November 7th Spring: February 20th
SEVEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR CHILD HAVE A SUCCESSFUL, EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE IN ATHLETICS THIS SCHOOL YEAR
Contributed by Karl Kemper,
Ashland High School Athletic Director
Athletics are a very valuable part of the educational process. Parents can be an important part of making participation in sports a worthwhile experience for their child. However, they also have the power to take away from the value. Following are some tips from a coach who is on the inside looking out into the stands.
1. Remember that it's a game and kids are playing it. Let them have fun. Many players feel that they have to live up to unrealistic standards of other people. This creates unnecessary pressure that often makes them perform worse, not better. It also takes away from the fun. Often, the player's athletic achievement is more important to the parent than it is to the child. There is something wrong with that picture. You should not be angry or disappointed in your child for playing poorly, any more than you should be happy with them for doing well. Their sense of self-worth should not come from how good a player they are. It should come from how good a person they are.
2. Expect your child do their best and let that be enough. Do not push them to play for a scholarship or pro contract. Coaches often hear from parents that this is what they expect. For 99% of the population, it is not a realistic goal. Scholarships and professional contracts are given almost purely on athletic ability. If it happens, that's great. But, it doesn't happen very often so don't set your kid up for disappointment. If they give their best effort, they should feel successful because they are. Even though their great heart, desire, and attitude probably won't get them to college for free, those things will help them become happy, successful adults. This makes acquiring theses attributes a worthwhile pursuit.
3. Be a supportive, positive fan. When you yell at your child, another player, or a coach it is embarrassing for everybody, especially your kid. It should be for you, too. Why not use that energy to encourage your team? Even yelling at officials is a futile use of your time. They have a very difficult job and they are not going to change their calls, anyway. Try officiating some time. It'd be educational for you. It's not fun. Somebody won't like you and will be mean to you, trust me. Why be that person when you're on the other side of the fence?
4. Let your kid learn to work out problems for him or herself. This is one of the most valuable lessons that can be learned from athletics. You do not help your child by complaining to the coach. Encourage them to talk to the coach if they are unhappy. Even if they don't agree and the player feels they are being treated unfairly, let them work out solutions for themselves. It is great preparation for the real world. Some day they may have a boss that they see as unreasonable and they will have to figure out what to do then, unless you plan on going to work with them to yell at their boss.
5. Let your child take responsibility for their actions. Setbacks and disappointment are a very real part of life. How we respond to and work to overcome obstacles goes a long way to determining how successful and happy we will be in life. Athletics is a great place for your child to learn this, if you will let them. Parents often let their kids off the hook by blaming coaches or "politics" for when their child does not measure up to parental expectations. Another common theme is to attack the abilities or efforts of other players. When you put these ideas in your kid's head, you help to tear their team apart from the inside. Worse, you slow your child's development by teaching them to be excuse-makers and blamers. Rather than accepting the challenges before them, they quit, thinking that it is not their fault and is beyond their control.
6. Help your athlete learn to play a role. There are different goals at each level of interscholastic athletics. At the younger ages, the focus is on skill development. As the student-athletes get older, the focus changes to being competitive. This is a hard time for a lot of parents, as only a few kids get to play a lot. Coaches at the varsity level are trying to win. They decide playing time based on who they best think can help the team do this. There are several factors involved including team chemistry, attitude, leadership, knowledge, effort, and competitiveness. Make no mistake about it, though. Ability is a huge factor in this decision-making process. If some player is playing in front of your kid, it is because they are more skilled at the sport and the team has a better chance to win with them playing that position, plain and simple. This does not have to be a negative thing. We all have strengths and your child should be proud of and develop theirs. Sometimes we do all we can do and other people are still better in a certain area. Yet we can all contribute to the group or team, even when we are not the best player. This is a valuable lesson.
7. Have high expectations for your athlete's behavior. Playing sports is a very emotional experience. Very few other places will one experience such highs and lows. It is a great venue to learn how to conduct oneself under extreme circumstances. You can learn to win and lose with both class and dignity. If you did everything you could to be successful, then the scoreboard should not matter. Do not demand that your child catches or hits the ball better. You would be better off demanding that they demonstrate good sportsmanship, be a good teammate, show respect for authority figures, work to be the best that they can be, have a positive attitude, deal with adversity, and meet challenges head on. These are skills that will help them to be good parents, workers, and members of society. They may not be able to dunk a basketball, but they will be happy.
Athletics provide a great opportunity for your child to learn lessons about life that they may not learn in the classroom. Don't get in the way of their learning. Join the team of people who are helping them to get the most out of the experience.