Emotions in Youth Sports: Friend or Foe?
Emotions in youth sports are a big reason why playing is so fun. Competition really is a roller coaster ride full of frustrations, joys, failures, and victories.
But emotions are also deceptive. As the author of How’s Your Soul? states, “In the journey of life emotions make great companions, but terrible liars.”
What exactly does that mean?
It means that in the heat of an emotional moment, people tend to make decisions based solely on how they are feeling, not on what is really the wisest thing to do.
When my youngest (now 24-year-old) came home after one volleyball practice her senior year, she stomped upstairs in anger and close to tears. I went upstairs after a bit and learned that she was upset because she thought she was going to be replaced as starting libero. She literally was on the verge of quitting.
I suggested to her that she had two choices–quit or fight it out–but that she should not make a decision right now in her angry state. Within a couple of hours, she’d calmed down and instead of quitting, went outside to practice her passing with a friend.
I know she was glad she didn’t make an emotional decision to quit because she went on to earn the starting libero spot and have a great season.
The simple rule for your child’s emotionalism in youth sports is this: don’t let them make any life-altering decisions merely because their emotions are crying out for escape.
Don’t let them quit the team because of one bad practice.
Don’t let them give up a sport because they got mad at their coach.
On the other hand, don’t let them sign up for the next season after one particularly awesome game.
Encourage them to let their emotions level out. Let the anger and/or the elation pass. Talk to them about how to make decisions based on what they know and feel when they are emotionally calm. Make a list of pros and cons, ask them life-coaching questions, and suggest that they seek wise counsel from a coach or mentor. Then, and only then should they make a major decision.