Remember how youth sports was when you were a kid? It seems like the experience was a less complicated. Unfortunately, today’s youth sports experience is not so cut and dry as it was when kids were just in it for the pure enjoyment of the game. These days, parents enter with a host of expectations based on a slew of myths that have cropped up in the youth sports culture.
Perhaps you are one of those parents who signed up your child for youth sports with certain hopes, only to discover a few seasons or years down the road that those expectations were myths.
Or maybe you are just starting out on your youth sports journey. If so, let me save you some disappointment and dispel some youth sports myths for you right now.
Youth Sports Myth #1 : It’s all fun and games.
After the initial excitement of signing up, buying sports equipment, and trying on the uniform wears off, practice and hard work can cause tiredness to set in. Practice will not always be fun. And the inevitable question will be asked, “Is the season almost over yet?” On top of that, the sports parent’s job can sometimes be exhausting and demanding.
Youth Sports Myth #2: All youth sports are expensive.
It all depends on your choices. Will you choose to have your child play rec league or travel ball, hockey (lots of equipment) or tennis (just need a racket and balls)? Then there’s the expense of the training. Will you choose expensive lessons or community summer camps? You don’t have to make elite choices for your child to enjoy youth sports.
Youth Sports Myth #3: The coach is an adult and thus should treat kids fairly.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most coaches love kids and love the sport, but you will encounter some who are in it to make their own kid look good, or you may end up with a coach who is determined to win, no matter what. Some coaches label kids, robbing them of a fair chance. The good news is that you can always make a change the following season if your child ends up with a coach who isn’t a good fit.
Youth Sports Myth #4: Coaching my own child will help us bond and is the best option.
This can be true for some parent/child relationships and not true for others. Give it a chance, but don’t be devastated if it is not the wonderful experience you were hoping for.
Youth Sports Myth #5: My kid will always have a fair shot at being successful.
One thing parents learn quickly in youth sports is that things are not always fair. Playing time isn’t equal. Your child may not get the position he wants. The coach may play favorites. The refs may call it poorly. Parental and league politics may come into play. If you encounter unfairness, you will have to decide if you want to fight it, live with it, or move on.
Youth Sports Myth #6: Parents are reasonable and respectful.
Most parents are, but stick around any ball field or court for any length of time and you will quickly learn that some parents are so obsessed with their child’s sports success, that they lose all respectability. Of course, we all behave badly now and then, but you will run into parents who are consistently pushy and blind to how their bad behavior hurts their child. Doing what you can to encourage the coach, players and other parents may at least help to diminish the negative effects.
Youth Sports Myth #7: Everyone pitches in to help.
Parents are busy these days. Working full time and taxiing kids around to their events can be all consuming. It is unfortunate that there are usually only a few really committed parents to pitch in to help run the snack bar or drive the van to away games.
Let me just say right here that if you are the team parent or manager, you will need help! It’s impossible to do the job alone. Hopefully, other parents will step up to help, but there is an awesome online tool that will really make your job easier. I’ve been friends with TeamSnap for a few years now and they do an awesome job at making the organizational an administrative piece of running the team a lot easier.
Youth Sports Myth #8: My kid’s a failure if he doesn’t get to play.
NO, NO. NO. He may feel like a failure for a short time, and you will suffer with him through his pain, but no kid who works hard in practice and stays committed to the team is a failure. He is the true victor for learning to stick it out.
Beware of coaches who make pre-season promises of playing time or guarantee that your child can play a certain position. Even if the coach thinks that these promises will happen, the reality of losing or the need to gel as a team will sometimes change his strategy.
Youth Sports Myth #10: It ends the way it begins.
Seasons have a way of turning around. If your child starts out discouraged with little promise of improvement, don’t let him give up. Hard work does pay off. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, too. Your child may start off with high hopes of a great season only to find that she hits a few rough patches from there. Sports seasons can fluctuate more than your teen’s hormones.
So what are you guaranteed when your child plays sports? What is not a myth about the
experience? It’s not a myth that being a sports parent will test your character as much as sports will test your child’s. Yet there are few experiences more rewarding in life as watching your child work hard and succeed.