Sports can bring out competitiveness in everyone. It can be easy to get caught up in the game and become emotional, especially when your kid is the one in a high pressure situation like being the batter in the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs, runner on third, and it's a tied game. Parents often take great pride in their children's athletic success when for example, their child gets a hit in this situation, but too often also show negative emotion when their child strikes out. If your athlete's success is linked to your self-esteem as a parent, or maybe if you have high hopes for your child to play at higher levels, then emotional reactions and bad sportsmanship are more likely to happen. At the end of the day, baseball is just a game, it's supposed to be fun and enjoyable for everyone involved. In a year, it won't matter if someone made an error in the second inning of today's game.
So how do you know if you've lost perspective of youth sports? One way to find out is to ask a coach or parent that knows you, sees you at practice and games, and that you trust. Another way is to check for these warning signs:
- Conversations at home are dominated by baseball. Either hours are spent reviewing and breaking down opponents, or they are spent giving your child feedback on their performance in the last game or practice they had.
- Your child has little time to spend with friends because of the amount of time devoted to sports outside of practice and games, restricting their social activity.
- Your child's education has become a second priority to competition and talent development.
- During games or practices, your child often looks to you for approval.
- Your child is overly nervous about practicing or playing, especially in front of you.
- Arguments between you and your child are often related to baseball or other sports.
When you feel like you're getting a little too emotional and worked up about a game, try to take a step back. To help you find a way to keep your perspective during practice or games, try these tips:
- Before practice and games, take a moment to remind yourself of the true meaning of youth sports. Think about how you plan to cheer on your child through being positive and calm.
- If you feel yourself getting too worked up during a practice or game, try holding a normal conversation with another parent about anything other than baseball or sports. If that doesn't help, try going for a short walk to separate yourself from the game and allow yourself time to calm down.
- When your child is in the spotlight (think about the bottom of the 7th situation again), do your best acting to look calm and at ease. If your child sneaks a peek at you during the pressure situation, you want them to see you being relaxed and confident in them!
- Taking deep breaths from your stomach always helps to calm nerves, and can also help you remember that you are always setting an example for your child. If you are composed and confident, your child will be more likely to be composed and confident as well.
Youth sports have the potential to offer great benefits to your child, but it's up to you to make sure they have a fair chance by keeping your perspective that baseball is a game. It's not the end-all be-all, and it definitely isn't your child's job! By keeping the perspective that baseball, and all other youth sports, are just games, your child will have a better chance at not only enjoying sports, but also fully getting all the benefits that can come from sports.