Don’t “Should” On Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness

This book -should-be required readingfor sports parents

Youth sports offers a nearly endless opportunity to teach your kids life lessons and character traits that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Don’t “Should” On Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness is a great book from Dr. Rob Bell and Bill Parisi that will help you along the way.

This book is for you, if you have your kids in youth sports to have fun and learn the skills needed to succeed in life like work ethic, mental toughness, confidence, grit, being a team player, leadership, overcoming failure, how to handle pressure, and more. 

The goal of the book is to help you raise confident and resilient kids.

I’m a big proponent of having perspective as a sports parent. Keeping the bigger picture in mind. This book does a great job of helping sports parents see the long game. It makes you realize how all of the little things you do and how you handle situations while your kids are growing up affects their mental toughness in the long term.

“Mental toughness is simple; it’s just not easy. It’s how we handle, cope, and deal with the setbacks and adversity. Mental toughness also involves how we perform under pressure; these ‘have to’ moments. And it’s only a matter of when, not if, these moments will occur.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Rob Bell, one of the authors. You can listen to our interview here.

Link to Rob Bell interview

Don’t “Should” On Your Kids.

“We take an adult view and impose it on our kids.”
-Dr. Angus Mugford

In the book they talk about how our entire lives, we’ve all been “should” on. Have you ever had someone tell you that you “should” do something? Or maybe that you “shouldn’t” do something?

“You should be more like your friend.”

“You should go to college.”

“You should be a lawyer.”

“You shouldn’t quit your job to start your own business.”

When people “should” on you, they’re imposing their beliefs and experiences into your world. How do they know what’s best for you?

Even when the “shoulds” are well intentioned, they create expectations to meet other’s expectations.

Do you ever “should” on your kids?

“You ‘should’ have caught that ball.”

“You ‘should’ have made that save.”

“You ‘should’ practice more on your own.”

“You ‘should’ play more like Charlie.”

I know I’m guilty of it.

“Parents who constantly should on their kids produce kids who should on themselves. Is we were should on long enough and severe enough as a youth, the voice of should becomes internalized and we start shoulding on ourselves.”

“When we conjure up feelings of “should,” it doesn’t motivate us. It does the opposite. A pile of should just reinforces the negative and reminds us that we are not good enough.”

“The shoulds pile up. Directive statements about your child’s past performances do little to inspire, instead creating fear. Condemnation, guilt, and shame are the result.”

“It’s best to realize and be aware that a child will do almost anything to please his parents and his coach. When we should on our kids, we are establishing expectations, brutally reminding them of negatives, mistakes, and that they aren’t good enough. When kids fail to reach your expectations, they can suffer and feel like a failure. Shoulding on them creates expectations that they may or may not be able to reach.”

Begin With The End In Mind

“Beginning with the end in mind means visualizing the type of person we want our son or daughter to become.

The most important skill to learn from sport is mental toughness, grit, and resilience. The mental toughness of your son or daughter is largely due to how you parent, model your life, and surround them with a healthy environment. The arena of sport can provide the skills, ethic, ethos that we desire, and the life lessons that will transfer and permeate long after their career is over.

The foundations of this book are passion and confidence. However, drive intrinsic motivation, perseverance, and persistence must come from your child. They must want it. They must be in touch with their own ‘why.’ It cannot come from us because it’s hard to be driven when you’re being driven.

Passion and confidence are the most important attributes in our children’s development of mental toughness because it will become difficult at times. If they play to please their parents or coach, for a scholarship or for pats on the back, it won’t be enough.”

Topics In This Book

Many of the quotes above were contained in just the first 11 pages of the book. The rest of the book is packed with great lessons and words to live by.

Other key topics and chapters in the book include:

  • Winners, Losers and At-Leasters
  • Vicarious vs. Supportive Parents
  • Confidence – Prepare Them for the Hinge Moment
  • The Impact of a Parent’s Body Language
  • Can’t Want it More Than Them
  • Reward Effort, Not Rankings or Winnings
  • Focus on the Process, Not the Product
  • The Car Ride
  • Let Them Fail
  • Mentioning Money and Time
  • The Gateway Drug to Specialization

Lots of Little Nuggets

One of my favorite things about this book is that it’s broken down into many bite-sized chunks. You can pick up this book, flip it open to any section and read on a few topics, 5-10 minutes at a time.

It’s a great book to have sitting around to read whenever you have a few minutes to kill. You’ll get a great reminder every time you pick it up.

As a sports parent, it’s a battle to keep the right perspective and frame of mind for the long term. Sports are emotional. If you don’t keep your mind right then your emotions will overcome your mind and get the best of you.

Keeping tools like this book around will help you keep your mind in the right place. When your mind is in the right place, both you and your kids will enjoy youth sports a lot more.

If you decide to grab a copy of Don’t Should On Your Kids: Build Their Mental Toughness, I would be grateful if you got it through my Amazon affiliate link. I’ll get a small commission for sharing the book with you, and it won’t cost you anything extra. Thanks in advance!

-Kevin

CLICK TO BUY THIS BOOK

My Kid Has A Concussion…Now What?

concussion

If your kid has a concussion, I’m sorry. I know what you’re going through.

My 10-year old suffered a concussion in the spring of 2016. If you’re like me, you have a lot of questions swirling around in your mind. I had even more when he suffered a second concussion during the first week of this school year! Playing kickball of all things.

Because I had so many questions surrounding concussions and kids in sports, I called my friend Carrie Boan. Carrie is a pediactric physical therapist who specilizes in brain health and youth sports injury prevention. I asked Carrie a lot of the same questions that you may have as well. Since I know that I’m not the only sports parent going through something like this, I decided to record our conversation.

I’m glad I did, because Carrie gives some awesome answers that I believe will help you and your child.

Click here or the banner below to listen. Feel free to contact Carrie if you have more questions of your own about concussions and youth sports. She’s @Carrie_Boan on Twitter.

carrie-boan-intervieq

I’ll be honest. Concussions scare the heck out of me. They’re so scary because they’re mysterious. They’re not a black and white injury like a broken bone or muscle tear.

You can’t see a concussion and how bad it is on an x-ray. There’s no grading scale of a concussion. And the part that’s the most scary is that we’re talking about a brain injury! Bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles… they can be repaired without long term consequences. But the brain is a whole different story.

I had so many questions…

When can my child return to playing sports after a concussion?

Is a kid more susceptible to concussions after having one?

What are the long term effects from concussions for kids?

How many concussions is too many for a kid to have?

My son Brayden got his first concussion playing in an ice hockey tournament in Chicago. It happened during a Saturday morning game. But we didn’t know about it until around 4:00 A.M. Monday morning and after he played in two more games!

Let me explain.

He got the concussion on a play that happens all the time. It wasn’t a violent collision. They didn’t stop play. The coaches didn’t have to come out onto the ice to see if he was OK.

Brayden was battling for a loose puck around center ice, near the blue line in front of his team’s bench. There were two other players from the other team battling against him. His skates got caught up on another stick or skates and he fell awkwardly on his right side with his arms down, gripping his stick. He appeared to land mainly on his upper arm near his shoulder.

He got up and skated, hunched over, directly to his bench. I watched and his coach came over to talk to him for a few seconds while he sat on the bench. After about 20 seconds, he popped up and stood next to his teammates watching the play.

I just figured he had the wind knocked out of him since he fell in an awkward position.

What I didn’t realize is that he hit his head and helmet pretty hard on the ice.

He didn’t miss his next shift though.

He didn’t say anything about the fall after the game. And then he played in another game later in the day on Saturday. And he played well.

Then he played in another game early on Sunday morning. Again, played a great game on D and even scored a goal. After his Sunday morning game, our family went to downtown Chicago, had lunch and walked around for the rest of the day before driving back home to St. Louis.

Everything was fine.

Then, around 4:00 in the morning on Monday, Brayden woke me up and said that his stomach hurt. He felt like he was going to throw up and his head hurt.

I thought he may have caught a stomach bug on our trip or something. (Again, I didn’t realize that he hit his head on that play.)

We held him home from school that day. When Brayden was still complaining  of a headache on Monday night, my wife asked me if I thought it was from when he hit his head on the ice.

I wasn’t sure what she was talking about. I didn’t recall him hitting his head in the game. Then she reminded me of his awkward fall near center ice.

I asked Bray about that fall and asked if he hit his head. He said that he hit his head really hard on that play.

The next morning, he still had a bad headache. We held him out of school again and made an appointment with his doctor.

The doctor confirmed our fear. Brayden had a concussion.

He had to be shut down from any physical activity until the headache subsided.

I informed Brayden’s hockey coach that we were shutting him down for the rest of the spring. His team was playing in another tournament in a few weeks, but Brayden wasn’t going to be a part of it.

I also told his baseball and soccer coaches that we were shutting him down for a few weeks. I explained to both coaches that we were being extra cautious and weren’t going to rush him back. They were all very understanding.

Brayden also had to sit out of gym class, couldn’t run or play during recess or at home with his neighborhood buddies.

I knew he was feeling pretty bad because that kid will do anything to get outside and play with his friends. But while he had headaches, he didn’t even want to go outside.

More than a month went by before Brayden was without a headache.

It felt like an eternity.

When the headaches finally subsided, Brayden was able to begin trying some physical activity. He had to start slowly and then gauge how he felt afterwards.

If he didn’t get a headache or feel sick within 24 hours of the activity, then he could take it up a notch the next day. Over the next couple of weeks, Brayden was able to ramp up his activity until he was back to playing like normal in the neighborhood and gym class.

He returned to playing sports soon after.

Everything was going great until late in August of this year. Brayden and another kid collided while playing kickball in gym class. The crown of the other kid’s head hit Brayden near the temple of his head.

He suffered a second concussion! A second concussion in less than six months!

By late August, his regular hockey season was in full swing. He had to be shut down for a little more than a month this time. Returned to playing games on October 1st.

His headaches didn’t last nearly as long with this second concussion. He also didn’t act as down in the dumps as he did with his first one. That leads me to believe that his second one wasn’t as bad. But, it’s like I said, we aren’t certain of that because there’s no way to know for sure.

It’s frustrating and scary.

If your child recently suffered a concussion, I hope this helps you go through the process that’s filled with question marks.

Thanks for reading (and listening).

-Kevin

A Conversation With Steve Nicollerat from CoachBaseballRight.com

STEVE NICOLLERAT coachbaseballright.com

I had the great pleasure to talk with Steve Nicollerat. I loved our conversation and I think you will too. When you look at Steve’s impressive 35-year baseball coaching resume, you might be quick to label him a “baseball guy.” But coach Nicollerat offers sports parents and other coaches a perspective that extend beyond his vast baseball knowledge.

There are some great, dedicated people leading youth sports organizations and teams. Steve Nicollerat is one of them. He sees the bigger picture and recognizes that athletics offer a fantastic opportunity to develop kids into great adults.

Steve is the Founder and Coach of CoachBaseballRight.com, a great resource for baseball coaches and baseball parents. The site has more than 250 videos that will help you coach baseball right. The membership area of the site is organized extremely well so that it’s easy to follow the progression of videos and practice plans in each area.

The philosophy at CoachBaseballRight.com is, “To equip coaches and parents with the right tools to engage and help kids develop athletically and personally through the game of baseball.”

MORE ABOUT STEVE NICOLLERAT

You may know Steve Nicollerat from the video of him addressing parents that went viral and has received millions of views.

You may know Steve Nicollerat from the video of him addressing parents that went viral and has received millions of views on Facebook.

Steve has been coaching baseball for more than 35 years at St. Louis University High School. He’s one of only six coaches chosen to be a nationally accredited Mike Epstein Hitting Coach. Steve’s system of teaching baseball emphasizes fundamentals and positive development, both athletically and personally.

“Sports are important, and everybody wants to win and you shouldn’t apologize for winning, but winning is not the most important part of coaching and what people should be after…you see sports give us the opportunity to use challenges and obstacles to help us all grow into better people…we just have to be smart enough to learn from the lessons the game provides.”
– Steve Nicollerat

Steve has raised and coached four children and now has beautiful grandchildren running all around. With all of these experiences, Steve thinks that he has been blessed to be able to grow and learn as an exceptional father, a caring and loving grandfather, a teacher, and as a coach.

SportsDadHub interview steve niccollerat

KEY POINTS FROM OUR CONVERSATION

Steve hits upon some awesome points during our conversation. Here are a few of the quotes and highlights:

  • Parents should have a vision and a plan that’s best for their kid.
    Too often sports parents allow a club or team to dictate what path their child takes. Parents need to be involved and have some self awareness about what’s in their kid’s best interest.
    “Today parents tend to let other people tell them what’s best for their own kid.”
  • In a perfect world kids would play multiple sports. They’d also be involved in music, theater and other activities.
    It’s OK if your child is only interested in one sport. Just make sure they have an off season.
    “Even if they’re only playing one sport, you have to always leave it to where they want more. If we give the kids what they tell us they want… which is a lot… then I’m afraid at times there won’t be any more left for them to want to go after.”
  • Just because kids want certain things, doesn’t mean that it’s OK for them to have it.
    When kids think that they need to spend all of their time working to get better at a sport, it stops being fun.
  • Games used to be special events.
    Kids are playing so many games today that the games just become something they do. One thing we’re missing today is practice so that the kids can learn.
    “What good is playing 60 games if you’re making the same mistakes 60 times?”

COMMON COACHING MISTAKES

Some of the most common mistakes a coach can make are:

  • Lacking communication with parents and players.
    Thinking everyone knows what you think. Little communication from a coach about everything from playing time to practice attendance will set up a season for failure. Parents have to know what to expect.
  • Thinking they know it all because they played the game.
    Not being open minded to new techniques or drills or how to run a practice. Coaches need to go beyond their comfort zone to constantly stretch themselves to get better & provide a better experience for the kids.

CBRCoachBaseballRight.com

This is an awesome resource for baseball coaches and involved baseball parents. There are 250+ videos that teach from the most basic skills to the advanced. The cool thing is that they’re progressive so you won’t get lost or overwhelmed. Each video builds upon the previous video.

Steve is a great communicator. He explains how and why to do each drill and describes details in a way that kids can understand and remember. One example of this comes from an infielder’s drill about circling and approaching a grounder. Steve wants the kids to work on having their glove fingers down with the glove open. He calls it “taking a picture of the ball.”

He tells the kids to imagine that there’s a camera in the pocket of the glove and they need to open their glove and hold it down and out in front of them so they can “take a picture” of the ball.

PLANS FOR PARENTS

CoachBaseballRight.com is an awesome resource if you’re a baseball dad or mom who enjoys fueling your child’s passion for baseball by working on some drills at home. CBR.com gives you a plan to follow. Instead of winging it and going on YouTube to search for random baseball drills, you can have a template to follow. It helps you make the most of the limited time you have to work with your kid. These programs will take you by the hand and guide you on what to do to help your child improve.

PLANS FOR COACHES:

As cool as CoachBaseballRight.com is for parents, let’s face it… Steve Nicollerat is a coach. The tools this site offers to baseball coaches is unlike anything I’ve seen. Fantastic videos that break down how to coach things like rundowns, bunt defenses, cut-offs and relays. Steve breaks down and communicates drills masterfully.

There’s nothing worse than getting to practice and just winging it because you ran out of time to create a practice plan. When you’re a member of CBR.com you can download full baseball practice plans. Save yourself time and aggravation.

If you’re a baseball coach and you take pride in constantly growing and evolving, you need to add CoachBaseballRight.com to your tool kit.

In addition to all of the drills and coaching instruction, you can find some great blogs and videos on bigger picture things too. Topics like “Why Do We Coach?” and “What Does Commitment Mean To A Parent?”

During our conversation, Steve shared a powerful story about the lesson he learned in a game while coaching his son. “What he needed was a dad and all he got was a selfish egotistical person that didn’t have any empathy.”

Like I said, it was a great conversation. I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

Check it out by clicking here or the bar below. And definitely check out everything that CoachBaseballRight.com has to offer you.

SportsDadHub interview steve niccollerat

Give Your Son Baseball Lessons From Former MLB Players

Up17 Sports Dad Hub Baseball Tips From Former Pros

How would you like to give your son baseball lessons from former MLB pros? I’m talking about personalized, one-on-one, focused attention on your son’s swing or pitching delivery.

That would be pretty cool, right?

Well a very cool batting and pitching app called UP17 provides just that. All you have to do is video a few of your son’s swings and/or pitches and upload the video into the app. In a matter of minutes the video will be in the hands of an UP17 hitting or pitching instructor – all of which are former Major League Baseball players.

When you upload a video you can either choose your son’s instructor or have one assigned to him. What I really like is that any time you upload another video, it will automatically go to your son’s designated instructor. So that gives his instruction continuity.

Who has time for private hitting sessions on top of team practices and games?

Up17 logoUP17 is the ideal baseball teaching tool for busy sports parents. We already have our schedules crammed full of team practices, games and other activities. Finding time for additional private baseball lessons on top of those things can be really tough.

With UP17, you can use your phone to film your son taking 5-7 hacks off a tee in your garage at 9:15 at night. How long would that take? Two minutes? 

Then you simply upload the video to the app and send it to your pro instructor. A few days later your video with professional hitting analysis will be waiting for you in the app.

My experience with UP17

A couple months ago former MLB player and current UP17 director of operations, Joe Mahoney, contacted me. He found the Sports Dad Hub blog and awesome Facebook community and knew that he could offer some help.

I was immediately intrigued. Right away I saw the value in having a former MLB player providing direct feedback on your son’s swing or pitching motion.

So I tried it out with my 10-year old son, Brayden.

The whole process is pretty simple. Setting up the app is easy. Once the app is downloaded and you’ve created a profile, all you need to do is decide how many tokens you’re going to buy. You can buy them in packs of one, three or ten at a time. Each session costs one token. When at least one token is loaded, it’s go time.

I filmed Brayden taking a few swings while he warmed up playing soft toss before a game one Saturday morning. It literally took about a minute.

I attempted to upload the video to the app on the spot. It seemed like it worked, but later I got an email saying that it failed to upload. I think it was because the tournament fields were in somewhat of a rural area and I didn’t have the best cell signal.

The video loaded in no time and without a problem later from my home wifi.

Up17 Nick Green Sports Dad HubOur professional hitting instructor

A few days later, I had a notification from the app that Brayden’s swing analysis video was ready. Nick Green was the former MLB player assigned to Brayden.

Nick did an awesome job making a connection with Brayden and providing feedback and instruction that made it simple for a 10-year old to understand. Brayden got a kick out of Nick using his name. He had a funny smile on his face every time he watched his video review.

Now, remember how I said filming Brayden took about a minute? Well the video swing analysis we got back was more than eight minutes long. Nick really dissected Brayden’s swing without getting too technical or confusing. He reinforced the good things he saw and then provided positive suggestions for areas that Brayden can work on.

Nick’s instruction was very actionable. It’s all stuff Brayden can work on when he practices. And Nick even included some additional videos of hitting drills that will help Brayden improve in the areas covered in his swing analysis. The additional videos also live within the app. 

Awesome baseball instruction for visual learners

Throughout the video analysis Nick drew on the screen to illustrate what he was talking about. He paused the video numerous times so that he could break down specific parts of Brayden’s swing. While he talked, he drew on the screen to help communicate his points. That was huge for Brayden because he’s a visual learner.

And since this video lives on the app, Brayden can go back and watch it as many times as he wants as often as he wants. If I took him to a live hitting instructor here in town, Bray would probably forget half the things his coach told him to work on. With video instruction, forgetting isn’t an issue.

up17 baseball sports dad hub Up17 swing analysis sports dad hub

Is UP17 the future of private baseball lessons?

This app was so easy and convenient to use and the instruction was top notch. I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the future of private baseball lessons.

Where else are you going to get your son private access to coaching from former Major League Baseball players?

And everything is on your schedule. No setting appointments and driving across town for hitting sessions.

It’s awesome for busy sports parents like you and me.  Plus, there’s tremendous value in having a video recording of your son’s instruction. It’s so awesome that kids have the ability to go back to watch and absorb the knowledge over and over. The continuity of having the same coach every time is also a great thing.

Overall, I’m a big fan of this app. And after talking to Joe Mahoney a few times now, I’m a big fan of the company. I love their mission to get unmatched professional hitting and pitching instruction into the hands of as many kids as possible.

If you’re looking for a simple, convenient way to get your son baseball coaching from former Major League players, who are also good guys, I highly recommend you check out UP17.

Click the link below to listen to the phone conversation I had with Joe Mahoney. He shares some very cool insights about the app and the company’s philosophies. 

FUELING VS. PUSHING YOUR KIDS TO SUCCEED IN SPORTS

FUELING VS PUSHING KIDS IN SPORTSOne time when I was in high school my friend’s car ran out of gas. Luckily we were just down the street from a gas station. We could see it in the distance about a quarter mile away, so we decided to push the car.

It was a hot and humid summer night and it was just the two of us. We struggled quite a bit to get the car rolling. But once we gained momentum, it got easier. Until we got to a small hill about halfway to the gas station. I wouldn’t even call it a hill. It was more like a hump.

We pushed and pushed to get over the hump, but it was no use. The momentum slowed and eventually the car came to a dead stop.

Actually, once it stopped, it felt like the car was pushing back because it began to roll backwards until my friend hopped in and put it into park.

We were both a sweaty mess and extremely frustrated. We both knew the car had potential to make it, but continuing to push was getting us nowhere.

PUSHING YOUR KID IN SPORTS IS LIKE PUSHING A CAR UP A HILL

I shared this story with you because I think it relates well to the result you get when you push your kid in youth sports. It may work at first, so you’ll keep pushing to get more out of him. But it won’t take long before he starts to make it an uphill battle. After a while you’ll feel like you’re not making any progress at all . . . and you’ll push harder. That’s when he’ll start pushing back and regressing.

Just like pushing a car that’s out of gas, pushing your kid in sports is not any fun. You’ll both become extremely frustrated with each other. And he’ll associate the sport with stress, frustration and the feeling that he’s constantly disappointing you.

If you’re not careful, your relationship will begin to erode.

FUELING INSTEAD OF PUSHING

My friend and I could have saved a lot of effort, energy, frustration and sweat if we would have just stopped to fuel up his car a few miles earlier. When you compare the amount of effort it takes to push a car vs. fuel it and letting it power itself, it’s not even close. You’d take fuel and power every time. Right?

When you fuel your car, it goes on its own without much effort from you. Your only job is to guide it in the right direction, then enjoy the ride.

Raising a youth athlete isn’t much different. Your main goals as a sports parent should be to simply fuel your child’s passion for sports and give him the best opportunities to succeed.

HOW TO FUEL YOUR KID IN SPORTS

Fueling your kid’s desire and passion for sports isn’t as simple as stopping at a gas station and filling up. But’s it’s also not as difficult as some folks make it out to be. I’m a simple guy, so I like to keep things simple.

Here are some simple ways to fuel your kids to succeed in sports:

  • Play with them without always turning into coach dad. When your kid wants to play a sport with you, just play. Resist the urge to correct them or stop the game to work on a skill every time.
  • Praise their effort, not the result. After a game, never focus on the final score or how well you thought your kid played. Instead, praise the two things she can always control – her hustle and her effort (if she gave 100%).
  • Avoid critizism. Nothing will empty a kid’s tank like being criticized after a game or practice.
  • Don’t talk about the game unless they bring it up. If your kid wants to talk about his game, he’ll bring it up. If he doesn’t want to talk about it, then leave it be.
  • Ask them if they want to work on anything together. Whenever you have free time ask him if there’s anything he wants to work on before his next game. If he wants to, then by all means help him work on something. If he doesn’t, don’t push him or show disappointment.
  • Take them to pro or college games. Not many things fuel and fire up youth athletes like going to watch pro or college players play the same game as them. When they see how skilled people can be at a sport, it can easily fuel their desire to improve.

It’s not always easy to avoid pushing your kid to be the best athlete they can be. But to put it simply, you can’t want it more than them.

Fueling your kids’ desire to play sports and work hard at improving will make sports much more enjoyable for you both.

Thanks for reading.

Kevin

GRACE: The Best Gift A Sports Parent Can Give

GRACE

It was extra innings in the championship game of a tournament. There were two outs and a runner on third base. My son Brayden stood at the plate, in his left-handed stance. The pitcher wound up, and came home with the pitch.

Brayden watched strike three sail right in front of his chest, down the middle of the plate.

My first thoughts were, “C’mon Bray. You’ve got to swing if it’s close! How did he just watch that pitch go by?”

My next thought was, “Maybe it was high. Did the ump blow that call?”

It would have been easy to get worked up about the situation. I could’ve chosen to be upset at Brayden for not swinging. I could have chosen to be angry with the umpire for messing up the call.

I chose neither option.

Instead, I chose grace. 

And I immediately felt all of the tension from the situation leave my body.

I think we forget that WE are in control of how we react to adversity. We get to choose our emotional state.

My definition of grace is basically being able to say, “Oh well” and instantly letting something go. Grace is being accepting of the mistakes and flaws of other people. It’s understanding that no one is perfect. Grace always assumes that someone is doing the best that she can.

When I give grace, I feel better about myself too. I feel like a better person and I bet you will too.

Grace is such a beautiful, calming, non-judgmental thing. Especially in the competitive, sometimes stressful and difficult world of sports. When you give grace, you’ll be happier and so will everyone else around you.

Why Grace Is The Greatest Gift A Sports Parent Can Give.

It’s amazing how making this one decision will change so many aspects of your life. The ripple effect of Grace is unreal.

Let’s take a look at some different ways giving grace will make your life as a sports parent easier.

  • You won’t get upset, disappointed or frustrated when you kid doesn’t perform the way you believe he can.
  • You won’t get annoyed when the other kids on the team make bad plays.
  • You won’t scream and shout at the refs and umps when you think they made a bad call.
  • You won’t get angry at your kid’s coach when he makes a move you disagree with.

Read back over those four bullet points and think about how giving grace in each of those areas can dramatically change your experience with youth sports.

Pretty powerful, wouldn’t you say?

Extend Grace Now So They Come To You Later

There’s another secret reason why I believe that grace is so important in sports parenting. When your kid has a major fail in a big game, or he watches strike three go by with the winning run on third, he’s going to feel awful.

Do you remember what it felt like to screw up in sports? Remember wanting to go run and hide? But you can’t. You have to stay out there on display for everyone. That’s what our kids go through when they mess up too.

Do you think he wants to run over after the game to a mom or dad who is going to rip into him about his mistake? That’s like ripping the scab off of his scrapped elbow. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to place doubt in his mind about how much you believe in him and value him.

If you tear him apart and make him feel worse after small moments like letting in a soft goal, or missing an open layup, do you honestly think that he’ll come to you when he’s dealing with a much bigger issue later in life?

Heck no. If you didn’t extend him grace over an error he made in fourth grade baseball, why would you extend it when he tells you about something that’s been bothering him in junior high?

Instead of telling you, he’ll hold in whatever’s bothering him because he thinks you’ll just judge him and make him feel worse.

Grace Builds Trust

Look, I know giving grace isn’t the easiest thing to do. It may even be very difficult depending upon how critical you currently are with your kids. But it’s worth it. Every time you extend grace to your kids, it builds an emotional layer of trust.

When your kids know that you’ve got their back, no matter how many mistakes they make, that forms a rock-solid, trusting relationship. It lets them know that even though they live in a world that’s constantly judging and criticizing them, they can always count on you for support.

Give Yourself Grace

If you’re reading this and feeling guilty of being a little tough on your kid, coaches or officials, please know that you deserve grace too. I didn’t write this to make you feel bad about what you’ve done in the past.

I wrote this to help you feel great about what you can start doing in the future.

-Kevin