Tips for Raising Your Budding Athletes
Major League Baseball (MLB) hosted Opening Day 2018, as per annual tradition. Opening Day marks the day on which professional baseball leagues begin their regular season. Little Leagues across the country, however, host their own opening day festivities throughout the month of April. There’s really nothing cuter than an oversized baseball jersey and clompy cleats walking up to the batting tee at home plate to take a swing.
But even the most well-meaning (and adoring) parent can give her kid the wrong impression from the sidelines, without even knowing it. Especially if you’re the parent of a first-time t-ball preschool little leaguer, here are some of our tips for encouraging and supporting your young athlete this season, from practice to game time and beyond…
Don’t yell “you can do it!”.
This, and other seemingly-positive phrases, can sometimes create more pressure if the child isn’t able to do it, or finds it challenging to follow-through.
Don’t encroach on the sidelines.
Give some space between you and the field. If your child is constantly looking for you in the stands or listening to your instructions from the sideline, her main focus is not the game, it’s you. Tell your child something like, “once you’re out there, I can’t help you. That’s your coach’s job. Focus on and listen to your coach.” Ultimately, this will help her have fun while she’s out there and focus on playing the game, instead of looking for approval from sideline bystanders.
Don’t interrupt the practice to get that perfect Instagram photo of your child.
Watching them hit a baseball off the tee the first time can be so tempting. You want to grab that moment and keep it with you forever. As much as you want to get close enough to snap the perfect Boomerang of your child’s swing, try not to interrupt practice exercises by actually walking into the field or practice space. Keep your phone on the sidelines where it belongs and get the pictures after practice.
Here’s what you should DO!
DO help your kids find their own passion.
Help your child find and pursue their own passions, rather than your own. Your child should be the one who says, “let’s go throw the ball around!” In finding and playing something they inherently love, they’ll have more fun pursuing a passion and putting in the time to improve on it.
DO practice at home.
No one ever got any better at something by doing it only one hour every seven days. Children are visual, hands-on learners. Find ways to practice fielding ground balls, hitting off the tee and throwing the ball in ways that they understand and find fun. Repetition is the best chance at improvement and the one-on-one time you spend with your child builds a lifelong passion for both love of the game and quality time with mom and dad.
DO be consistent with your kids whether they win or lose.
Whether your child has a great game or gives a ho-hum performance, be consistent with your attitude and after-game activities. Help them learn to expect the same encouragement, tone and routine after every game, win or lose. Tell your kids you believe in them, no matter what the scoreboard looks like in the end.
DO let them show you what they can do without you.
In little league, a silent parent is a good parent. Give your child a hug and wish them good luck, and then let her show you what she can do without you!
Kiddie Academy’s Director of Education Quality, Heather Schorah had this to say:
“Being part of a team sport provides many opportunities for growth and development in a child’s social and emotional skills. Foster these skills by modeling positive behavior and teamwork, by supporting the coaches style and goals, and by encouraging your child to be the best they can be through every game, win or lose.
As children learn how to be coached, how to be a part of a team, and how to cope through tough situations, we are setting them up for success when they face the challenges of the real world.
Cooperation, pride, patience, respect, and responsibility are Character Education values the children learn about and practice in our schools. Discuss these values with your child as they are relevant in their role on the team.
And most important, have fun!”
Participation in sports by children and adolescents is associated with a range of documented physical, emotional, social, educational, and other benefits that can last into adulthood. Surveys have shown that having fun is a primary reason why children are motivated to participate in sports. These parenting etiquette tips will help you be the supportive parent you want to be on the field while encouraging your child to keep participating in a sport they love, while reaping all the long-term physical, social and emotional benefits.
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