Getting a Child Ready to be Successful in Sports
By Leonard King
Resilience is one of the key fundamental attributes that our elite athletes must possess if they have plans of successfully navigating the challenging athlete development pathway and go on to represent Australia.
At some stage, each player will need to be exposed to situations where they are going to fail, and it is at this very stage that they will need their parents’ help the most by being an inspirational force. Teach your kids that failure is a part of the learning process, find the valuable lessons from that failure, make the adjustments and improve, and move forward a wiser and more experienced player.
The overprotective instincts of modern parents are limiting risk-taking in today’s youth. For fear of their child being harmed or failing at something (i.e. rock climbing, playing contact sports, wrestling to name a few), these “Helicopter” parents effectively try to protect their child from anything that they could potentially not be very good at, which includes failure. However, this actually does more harm than good, because the kids who never get an opportunity to fail and therefore never get to experience the situations where they need to be resilient.
The Learning Process
We live in day and age where everything is seemingly easy to obtain. As a result, we are seeing more and more children having a sense of entitlement. Both coaches and parents need to understand that we don’t necessarily need to try to make them lose that feeling of entitlement, but we do need to be able to explain that there is a process that’s required for them to develop the necessary skills so that they can be better in basketball. Some kids never develop an appreciation for or respect for the learning process required to improve sporting skills. Parents can play a vital role in increasing their child’s understanding of the learning process athletes please find below some helpful steps to improving their awareness of the process.
1. Define what they want to achieve:
Where do they want to go, what do they want to achieve? Once you have that vision of where they want to end up, it’s very important for the athlete to understand that there will be roadblocks and obstacles in their way.
2. Don’t Allow Them to Compare
This is the number one issue parents have. Their son or daughter may miss out on the team, or may not score as many points and straight away they are comparing their child to someone else and they lose focus of where they are headed and the process to get there. Believe in a process, and stick to the process. Everyone is different, and everyone’s process is different. Parents can get caught up in the results of one game, whether it be a club game, or rep game, or even state game. However, these results are not absolute! The results are all part of the process of kids learning how to play, and how to get better. It’s very important for parents to help their child work through the lessons learnt in every game they play.
Players must have a level of resilience, as there will be obstacles they will need to overcome and need to get through. Everyone will have times where their skill development is accelerating and going really well, and others where it’s not going as fast as you’d like. You need to be resilient and fight through those times when things aren’t going your way.
4. Let Kids Make Mistakes
Parents need to understand that basketball, like most sports, is a game of mistakes. Quite simply, no one has ever played the perfect game of basketball. Mistakes are crucial to LEARNING, and in the end, that is all this is about. These include mistakes in decisions making and in skill technique. When parents or coaches punish kids for failure to perform to their perfect expectations, compliance may happen, but at the loss of inspired behaviour and creative solutions. Someone said it well with “Punishment may get you compliance, but not inspired behaviour.” Not to mention that such fear may be a motivator, but it is a very poor compass.
5. CHOICES are Determined by VOICES
As the American Basketball Hall of Fame Coach, George Raveling once said, the “choices one makes in life are determined by the voices in your life.” The company one keeps around is a huge deal. Surround your son or daughter with “people who can help them and believe in them.
6. Parents and Social Media
Parents, your role is to support your child unconditionally, remain a positive influencer in their life. Realize that your son or daughter is certainly going to receive praise and possibly be criticized through social media and that it may impact how they would feel about their progress as a player.
Continue to ensure that your child wants to be coached, wants to be motivated, and wants to be challenged. Every player has “rainy days” and it is their choice to either believe in or tune out the noise. There will ALWAYS be noise coming from outside influences, but the critical part within one’s sporting success relies on how the player handles that “noise”.