A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Dealing with disappointment
Young athletes often don’t get to play the position they had their sights set on, leading to disappointment and despair. How you choose to navigate this treacherous territory can make the difference between your youngster adapting to the challenges and embracing the sport or walking away for good.
If your child participates in organized team sports for any length of time, chances are pretty good that at some point along the way they will be disappointed with the position the coach has selected for them to play.
For a 9-year-old softball player manning right field may not sound as exciting as being the pitcher and being the center of attention; and for a 12-year-old football player being the safety on defense and being responsible for helping stop players from scoring rather than being a running back and trying to score might not seem as much fun.
As a youth sports parent how you choose to approach these often delicate situations can make a big difference in whether your child enjoys a fun and rewarding season or looks to bail out on the sport.
Keep these tips in mind as your child’s season unfolds to help make sure their fun isn’t derailed and their interest in the sport isn’t cut short:
Ease the disappointment – Remind your child that every position on a team is important and that being part of a team means making sacrifices in order to work as a cohesive unit.
Talk to the youngster about their discontent – Encourage the child to embrace the position the coach has selected. If the child has never played the position before perhaps they don’t realize all the responsibilities that are involved with playing there, which can re-energize their excitement levels. Or, maybe they are nervous about their ability to excel at this position. Take the time to find out how the child feels and then work to resolve the situation so they can enjoy the season.
Share your experiences – If you played youth sports growing up then the chances are pretty good that you have walked this same path in your athletic career and at some point were forced to adjust to a position you never thought of playing. If so, be sure to mention it. It helps youngsters to know that they aren’t the only ones wading through these mixed feelings.
Boost your child’s confidence – Remind him or her that the coach must have chosen them for this position because of specific skills they possess. Talk up those skills and boost their confidence and your child’s feelings about playing this particular position may do a 180-degree turn.
Challenge the youngster – That’s right, challenge your child to be the best right fielder, catcher, left tackle or goalie they can be. Offer to work with them on the skills required to excel at this particular position. Don’t push them; but by being there for them they may take you up on the offer and if you devise some fun drills you can perform together not only will the youngster improve but it’ll be a great bonding experience for both of you.
Attend games together – Take your youngster to a professional game and focus the bulk of your attention on how the player who is playing your child’s position handles his responsibilities. This is a great way to show your child how important every position on the team is vital to its success. Plus, your child may pick up some great pointers that enable him or her to enhance their skills. If a professional team isn’t available in your area then college games or even high school games can be equally great learning experiences, too.
Remember, team sports teach many valuable lessons, and one of them is the essence of teamwork and that every position is important and impacts how the team fares.
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The Press Box is a weekly e-newsletter bringing you the latest news stories in youth sports, research on youth athlete safety and wellness, and more. Stories are carefully curated to bring subscribers only the best quality content and news.