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Parents... Why do we have our kids play sports, anyway?

August.  One of the best months of the year.  Hot, humid, uncomfortable?  You bet.   The answer is (D … all of the above.

However it is also a time for some time “off”; time for family trips, relaxation, vacation (or as the kids now call it, “va … ca.”)

If you are a youth sport athlete or parent; a youth sport “FAMILY” it is ALSO time for some time off; a well-deserved breather before “fall ball” in whatever shape and form that takes; be it football, baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, soccer, cross country, etc.

This is all good; very good in fact.  We all need some space in order to rest, recover, and get our minds off sport and allow ourselves some time for our brains to breathe and get “fresh” again.  Inhale and exhale slooooowly.

Time also to evaluate the motives attached to all these pursuits; time to reflect on where we are going with everything that we invest as families in these activities and what the inevitable results are going to be.

Yes, I DID say “inevitable results” for after all; none of us are going to do this forever; not as performers or parents or families. They had to crowbar me off the baseball field.  I played semipro baseball for twenty years and I miss it terribly but … it DID happen.  I DID have to stop.  Eventually (No!!!  No!!!  Noooooo!!!) I had to move on to other things; other things BTW that I also love very much; family for instance.

For our children; the “inevitable” … just like for all of us as parents … is adulthood; that place where we become husbands, wives, moms and dads, productive members of society.

As an instructor I am ALWAYS in pursuit of more knowledge and so I am constantly taking courses and acquiring additional certifications.  (I’m going to wallpaper my office).

I enjoy learning and that is why, even though I already have a certification in youth fitness, I signed up recently for a youth fitness course taught by legendary strength and conditioning coach MIKE BOYLE.

Mr. Boyle begins the course with close to three hours on the current youth sports industry.  Boyle is not only a top coach he is a parent with a daughter who is a college scholarship ice hockey athlete and a son who participates in youth hockey.   He points out that when he was young (I believe he is 56) the purpose of sports was to “teach life lessons in a forgiving environment;” learning to become a better functioning member of society; learning that hard work pays off, learning to arrive early, stay late and provide more than what’s asked of you.”

Boyle remarks that “when we look at training kids, we need to ask what are we training them to do.”

I believe he is referring to the development of CHARACTER first.  CHARACTER FIRST!!!  Not the trophies or the trips or the visits with college coaches, etc., etc., etc.

My grandfather never played sports; youth or otherwise.  He was orphaned in Russia and kicked into the streets when he was eleven.  In order to survive he did odd jobs including delivering the mail on horseback.  He had to carry a pistol in case of wolves (not kidding).  He worked for two priests who threatened to kill when he gave too much grain to the priests’ stallion and the animal collicked and died.

My grandfather hid in a haystack, ran away, and walked 200 miles to Kiev where he contacted a relative in St. Louis who paid for his passage to America.

Eleven years old.  Walked 200 miles.  Boarded a ship to America, stayed in Ellis Island and became a citizen of the United States.

Now THAT is character.

He was eleven.  (Not even old enough to be out of Little League).

My grandmother was a violent and abusive alcoholic and my grandparents’ marriage ended in divorce. My father ran away from home when he was sixteen and yet he worked (second and third shifts in a mattress factory) his way through college and became a successful engineer, architect and managed the largest thoroughbred farm in the state.

That is character.

All three of his siblings (Not their fault; this is the common path of behavior) ended up as alcoholics.

My father never drank or smoke.  He devoted himself entirely to his family; my mother (they were together since they were 15 and four kids.  He was a great dad; a loving supportive parent.  I had an absolutely wonderful childhood.  We hunted, fished, played baseball and other sports, and have remained close as a family through thick and thin; good, bad, and ugly.

That is character.

When the dust has settled from our summer sports, what are we left with?  Win games and tournaments? Okay.  Good for you.  Get a scholarship or have a college coach show genuine interest?  Again;  great!!!  However ultimately what is MOST IMPORTANT?  What are we “developing” in ourselves and our children?  What are the life lessons THEY are learning in addition to getting bigger, stronger, faster, how to throw harder, hit harder, dribble, shoot, serve, volley, etc.

Watch the attached tape and see if you have any doubts about what character is.  No academy.  No rec ball. No AAU.  No travel ball.  Just character!!!  JUST character!!!

The process works when we work the process so here is the process …

KAIZEN:  Constant Improvement.  LEARN and GROW.  Break it down!!!  Slow it down!!!  Do it Correctly!!!  HABITUATE:  Correct habits. Do it correctly over and over and over again.

I work to address a broad range of issues in the articles and give you the best information possible.  If you have a question or feel you need advice or counseling, give me a call.

I realize that sometimes it is difficult to ask for help; especially with mental skills.  However, all of us can improve something with our game. 

Sometimes we need help but don’t know who to ask … or how.  Contact me and I can explain all our programs including  sports mental toughness programs which can easily improve your own mental game or that of your son/daughter or the players you coach.

I work with athletes and their families at every level of performance from all over the world using ZOOM over the internet!!!


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