As sports parents, we expect a lot out of our kids. I believe that many sports parents place their expectations too high, too unrealistic and too unfair.
Have you ever had an big expectation that you built up in your mind? Have you ever expected a movie, concert or restaurant to be so awesome that it was pretty much impossible to avoid being disappointed?
A couple years ago I heard about the sandwich chain Which Wich. I remember going online to check them out. The sandwiches looked delicious. I loved the creative concept of the sub shop too. It looked like an awesome place and I was excited to try it out. Unfortunately, at the time there weren’t any locations in my hometown of St. Louis. I was bummed.
For some reason, knowing I couldn’t get one in my town, I wanted to try Which Wich more than ever.
About a year later when our family was on a hockey trip in Nashville, TN I spotted a Which Wich near our hotel. Man was I excited! By this time, I had built up Which Wich so much in my mind. This was going to be the greatest sandwich in the world! I had BIG expectations.
When we got there, I wrote my sandwich order in Sharpie on the brown paper bag. It was awesome. Then it came time to dig into my sandwich that I had been visualizing and wanting for more than a year.
My review… “Meh.”
The bread was dry. There wasn’t enough meat. Too much lettuce.
What a letdown!
Didn’t even come close to my expectations. And even though we have Which Wich locations all over St. Louis now, I haven’t been back inside one since. The disappointment was too great.
OR… maybe my expectations were too high?
Expectations are a tricky thing. Especially when they come to human beings. More times than not, expectations only lead to disappointment.
For some reason, more and more sports parents are placing ridiculous expectations upon their kids. If you find yourself doing that, stop before you ruin your relationship with your son or daughter.
Don’t expect your kid to succeed all the time.
Give him the freedom to play freely and without fear of “screwing up.” He can’t play to his full potential or ever get into a flow if he’s constantly worried about making a mistake.
Don’t expect your kid to be the best player on the team.
First of all, if you put that expectation on him, he’ll start putting himself before the team. Games won’t be about his team having success, they’ll be all about how well he played.
Don’t expect your kid to get a sports scholarship.
It’s amazing how often I overhear other parents of nine, ten and eleven year old kids talking about which sports provide the most scholarships. If you’re looking at sports as the solution to covering the cost of college, you’re placing a heavy burden on the shoulders of your youth athlete. Adjust your expectations and get a new plan.
Don’t expect your kid to play pro.
For the love of God, don’t ever expect your kid to go pro in their sport. That’s all.
Sports Parents Should Only Have 5 Expectations
From the moment your child puts on a sports team uniform you should only have these five expectations of him as an athlete…
Your kid is going to fail. A lot. The sooner you not only accept that, but embrace it, the better. I say to embrace it because the last thing you want your child to be is tentative or afraid to mess up. If you’ve ever played sports, you know that success is never achieved if you play scared.
But guess what’ll happen if you jump all over your kid when he lets a ball go through his legs, or fans on a shot? The next time he gets a chance to make a play, he’s going to be thinking about not screwing up instead of just letting the play come to him and executing.
In a hockey game last season, my 9-year old son had a partial breakaway. Instead of doing a standard backhand to forehand deke move that he buries about 80% of the time, he pulls out “the Tarasenko” – a ridiculous move that Vladimir Tarasenko has pulled off a couple of times in a game.
He failed and I LOVED IT! He pushed the shot wide of the goal. But everything besides that, was awesome. I couldn’t believe that he tried it in a game. It would have been a big goal too. His team was down by two at the time.
I didn’t care. I absolutely loved that he had the confidence and the creativity to try to pull off a shot like that. Why the heck not man? He’s nine years old. Have some fun out there. If he would have scored, it would have been the goal of the season!
There’s nothing I hate to see more than kids basically throwing a temper tantrum during a game. There’s no excuse for throwing equipment or slamming a stick or bat around because something in the game didn’t go your way. And when the game is over, kids need to congratulate the other team for a good game. No matter how heated a game was, when it’s over, it’s over. Shake hands and go home.
I had to have a long talk with my youngest son after an intense indoor soccer game this past season. Carter was really getting into it with a kid on the other team. They had quite a few rough battles for the ball. I saw the kid take some cheap shots towards the end of the game. He got his elbows up a couple times and kicked Carter from behind another.
I watched the handshake line extremely close after the game. I saw what I was hoping wouldn’t happen. Carter twisted the other kid’s hand in the line. I was not pleased.
I immediately went over and talked to him about it when he came off the field. He started balling as soon as I got one sentence out. “That kid grabbed my hand and squeezed it instead of high-fiving me like everyone else!” Carter said as he continued crying. “He was kicking me and elbowing me all game dad.”
“Did you twist his arm in the line?” I asked.
“Yes. When he squeezed my hand I squeezed his back and turned my hand over.” Carter said.
I wanted Carter to apologize to the other kid, but I lost sight of where he went after the game. That wasn’t a proud moment, but we talked about it for a while afterwards. I think Carter learned a valuable lesson from it. I’d be very surprised if he ever does anything like that again.
This one is closely related to sportsmanship, but I felt like it deserved to stand on its own. When kids play sports there are a lot of different elements they should be expected to respect.
Coaches: Kids aren’t always going to agree with their coach’s decisions, but they always have to respect them.
Officials: Refs and umps are going to blow calls. A kid should never argue or use body language that lets everyone know that he didn’t think a call was right. They need to respect the call that was made and live with it.
Sports parents need to do a much better job modeling this behavior. (Not you, of course. The other parents on your teams. ;>)
Teammates: No matter what, kids need to support and respect their teammates. They should never point fingers or place blame on other teammates after a loss.
Opponents: If kids don’t have respect for their opponents, then bad things can happen quickly in sports. Bad things that can affect another kid’s life well beyond one game. Hits from behind in hockey, head shots in football, hard slide tackles in soccer, a cheap shot slide in baseball, an intentional foul in basketball. All of those plays can seriously injure someone. They’re all plays that take place when there’s a loss of respect.
I don’t know about you, but if my kid’s stepping onto a playing surface, he better give his best effort every time out. There’s never an acceptable reason for a kid not to hustle. When a kid develops the habit of hustling in sports, that carries over into other areas of life. Always expect your kid to hustle.
Hustle = Hunger and Hunger = Drive.
Whatever my kids end up doing in life, I want them to be driven. I want them to set audacious goals and then bust their butt going after them. That begins and ends with Hustle.
1. Have Fun
This one’s pretty simple. If you don’t expect your kid to have fun while he’s playing a sport, then why the heck would you have him play? Youth sports are always about fun. The moment your kid stops having fun playing, it’s time to find him a different team or sport all together.
The expectation should always be to have fun.
I hope you’ve had some fun reading this post!
Thanks for reading,
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