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How To Encourage Practicing Hard While Keeping Sports Goals Realistic

By Dave Thomas

When you are the parent of a child-athlete, you have to find the perfect balance for both you and your young one. For example, putting too much pressure on your son or daughter (or both) is typically a recipe for disaster.

Unfortunately, too many parents try to vicariously live through their children when it comes athletics. In doing so, they turn the pressure up a notch or two on their young ones to succeed. For some kids, that pressure is too much to overcome.

As a parent, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why is my child playing sports?
  • Does my child seem excited to go to practice each day?
  • Is my child putting too much pressure on his or her self to succeed at sports?
  • Am I doing enough to support my child in terms of encouragement?

In the event you are in fact placing higher expectations than necessary on your child/children, what can you do about it?

For starters, make sure they are truly enjoying the sport or sports they currently play. If there is little or no enjoyment, what can you realistically expect for them to get out of the experience?

Just as with their schoolwork and other important facets of their lives, encourage them to always practice hard, yet be realistic.

Examples of giving 100 percent at each and every practice includes:

Doing what the coach/coaches tell them to do.

  • Respecting the coach/coaches and their teammates.
  • Striving to learn something new each day.
  • Looking to make their teammates better too.
  • Leaving practice feeling as if they have accomplished something.
  • Never wanting to quit even if practice does not go well.

Examples of being 100 percent realistic about their sports goals includes:

  • Not every child is the next Babe Ruth or Serena Williams.
  • There will be practices when it seems nothing goes right.
  • Some kids will simply be more talented than your child.
  • Strive to leave the practice with a smile on their face for a job well done.

As the parent, it is also important to encourage your child on both good and bad days. For instance, when they have that bad day (it happens to every athlete), be there with some encouraging words.

One example of this would be if your child commits an error or two that costs his or her team the game. Face it: It’s likely your child already feels bad about the situation. Berating them or trying to over instruct them on how to avoid such situations in the future does no one any good.

Be there with an encouraging word or two. By reminding them that they gave it their best shot, that is what counts the most. Also be sure to keep their goals within reason.

As mentioned earlier, most kids will not be the next baseball, football, basketball, tennis, hockey superstar, etc. In most cases, they will have some fun, learn to work well with others, and maybe win a couple medals or a championship or two.

The true victory comes when your son or daughter walks away with a smile, be it practice or the game itself. When that perfect smile is there from ear to ear, you know you’ve done your job as a parent.

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