There are many important reasons parents put their kids in sports or a sports training program. In today's wild and crazy sports world, many life lessons are getting passed by. Obviously, there are all those surface-level reasons like teamwork, attitude, physical fitness, and leadership.
There are also so many other reasons that get passed over, like a child's mental health, learning different cultures, and arguably the most important element is confidence!
Sometimes without meaning to do so, coaches and sports programs are destroying kids' confidence. Kids today are constantly trying to live up and please their coach's expectations. This can be fine, except that oftentimes there is no communication on what those expectations are.
Coaches want to win. Nowadays, even high school coaches are paid, and jobs are on the line to win games and championships. Thousands of athletes come through their program, some get ample playing time, and others watch from the sidelines. That's the nature of sports.
The problem lies when most times, the only feedback to an athlete is "they are better than you" or "You're not as good as Billy/Susie."
Sports are something where the pursuit of success is constantly judged. Judged by coaches, parents, and peers. I have been mentoring athletes for nearly a decade and have been around plenty of athletes that are not starting, and when you ask why 99% of them typically have no idea.
It's almost as if coaches give up on these kids and move along to the next one. Always looking for the next big talent to walk through the doors.
Confidence Versus Talent
So, I ask you. If you were a coach, would you rather have a highly talented athlete with little confidence or an overly confident athlete with not as much skillset as the other kids?
For me, I want athletes to exude confidence! It is the critical element to becoming the person, athlete, parent, business owner, or whoever you choose to be in your life!
Yet, every day more and more young athletes walk through the doors searching for this thing we call confidence. Next, do we know how to coach it? I hear kids tell me coaches say things like, "you just gotta go for it."
Yeah, that would be nice in theory. If it were that easy, we probably would not be having this struggle in the first place.
I believe a couple of hurdles will begin to put people on the path to confidence and living the life they desire. First is the hurdle of pleasing people. I have stated a thousand times before and will get very loud about the statement below.
There is no greater relationship than the one between you and YOU!
Yes, reread that you are the most important person in your life. Own it! Write it in your mirror. Write it on a notecard and carry it around with you everywhere. It's ok to put yourself first!
Trust me. I know this can be a huge hurdle to overcome because we have been taught for years or even decades the opposite. This obstacle will cause you to fear going after the goals and dreams you want in life. Because before you write down or even think about any goal, you will find yourself asking questions. What would my friends think of this goal? What would my coaches think? What do my parents think?
Then immediately, you have found 25 reasons not to write that goal down. So you move along to the next thought of what my parents want me to accomplish. Would my coaches think this is a reasonable goal?
I will give you a better way of understanding this. It's kind of like when we were kids. We all have either birthday or Christmas wish lists. Things or experiences we want to happen on either of these celebrations.
Would you have written down what your parents wanted for their birthday? Heck no! They wanted boring things like dish towels or maybe a new couch.
When you were a kid, you wanted a new kickass toy or maybe to Disney World! You were not in the thought process of pleasing your parents or friends on your birthday, and kids should never be doing that, whether it's in sports, life, or career!
Start Taking Credit
Another one of our confidence killers is not taking credit for our accomplishments also as parents and coaches fail to acknowledge their accomplishments properly.
Kids already struggle to give themselves credit for their achievements. Then add to it when coaches start saying things like "finally" or "it's about time," it kills the mood or experience.
Most of them already believe that so much of what happens is because of luck. Or even worse, they have formed this hardwired belief that they "did what they were supposed to do." I even hear this from coaches and parents. Young athletes achieve something, whether it's in school or their sport, and parents respond with a statement like that.
What a real confidence boost for them? Now you're just training their minds that no matter what they do, it will never be enough to live up to your expectations.
Instead, we should be teaching them to celebrate EVERY accomplishment. My mentor has hardwired this into my mind that every accomplishment, no matter the size is a celebration!! Yes, I expect to be successful in everything I go after, which means I should have lots of celebrations, which happens.
I see it all the time kids are making outstanding grades, and parents say things like, you did what was expected of you. Maybe that has a little truth to it. As parents, you want to hold them to high standards, but you should also encourage them to celebrate these wins! Otherwise, doesn't life just become dull and never enough?
It's kind of like when your child learned to tie their shoes for the first time or ride a bike on their own. There was probably lots of screaming, joy, and excitement. You should experience those same feelings and emotions every day of your life!
Seriously, how much of a difference do you think it would have on your child's life if they only went after their own goals, did things that pleased themselves first, and took credit for all their achievements with massive celebrations?
What would that do to their self-esteem? How much confidence would that give them to go after something even bigger and more exciting?
You can see then why confidence is so important in sports and life! Without it, we tend to feel like we are just spinning our wheels. Trying hard to live life with any joy and excitement!
One of the most empowering things I learned from author Carol Dweck is the idea of encouraging kids to take credit on their own. And as she puts it, it's all in the wording we use as influencers.
She discusses the idea of how when a child accomplishes something instead of saying, "I am so proud of you." Rather say, "You should be proud of yourself."
This gives the child ownership of what they accomplished. Very subtle difference, as she points out, the first statement can form a belief in the child that they did it for you. They did it to make you proud as a parent.
The second statement tends to form the belief that they did it for themselves! We live during a time when people-pleasing and comparing themselves to the rest of the world seems normal. That is not how or why we were created to live.
We were created to live the lives WE personally want to live. You are your own creator. You are the creator of your reality. This is why confidence and the ability to love yourself are critical. The ability to see yourself as lovable or knowing without a shadow of a doubt you are precious and worthy is so important.
Take credit for all the wonderful experiences you have. Create even more magical experiences and shout them from the rooftop! Go out and celebrate how wonderful you are!
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