What should you want your child to gain from playing sports? Make the all-star team? Win a state championship? Earn a college scholarship?
If they have achieved any of those, congratulations! That’s awesome! It’s exciting to see your kids succeed.
But beyond the money, the recognition, the “fame” – what do you want your children to get from their years of hard work and your years of sacrificing?
Think about nurturing these 3 character traits each time your children put on their uniforms:
- Persistence – Kids learn perseverance when they compete for a spot on a team or a chance to get on the court. They become more determined when they finally get an ace after practicing their serve over and over. They develop tenacity when they have to work hard to get on their coach’s radar and earn playing time. And then, they carry that persistence with them when they graduate and have to look for a job or work on a marriage or fight for their health.
- Confidence – You can preach confidence to your children all you want, but you can’t teach it. It’s something they must learn as they work and grow and succeed. They will grow in grit as they see the results from their hours of practicing kill shots. They’ll become bolder as they see that the speed training really did make them faster. They’ll have more courage to dive after balls when they know they can dig them. And then, they’ll carry that confidence with them when they face a demanding boss or are forced to move and make new friends or have to give an important presentation at work.
- Cooperative spirit – Your children will learn teamwork when they realize that bump, set, spike is an amazing equation for success. They’ll learn to be cooperative when they recognize that maybe they’re better in the back row than at the net. They’ll understand the meaning of collaboration when they see that 6 teammates can get the job done but one can’t. And then, they’ll carry that cooperative spirit with them when they share a room or an apartment at college. They’ll remember the importance of teamwork when they work with their spouse to raise their children. They’ll know that cooperating with co-workers is the best way to get the work done.
If you can see past the kills, aces, digs, matches won and press clippings, you’ll get a glimpse of what your children are really learning each time they play. You’ll understand the true beauty of competition.
Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. She authored the Sports Parenting Survival Guide Series and has recently launched a podcasting series for sports parents. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.