Every youth athlete will struggle to succeed; some seasons being harder than others. When I say success, I’m not talking about winning the championship or making the all-star team. Rather, the success I’m referring to is the success of accomplishment, of effort, of finding victory even in the hard times, of a positive and persistent attitude.
Success is within reach for every competitor, but there are some types of athletes that will struggle more than others to achieve success. Is your child struggling to succeed? If they are one of these four types of athletes, they will find it hard to have success.
The fearful one.
Is your child playing in fear? Fear of injury, fear of not pleasing the coach, fear of what their teammates think, fear of not pleasing you, fear of failure?
Fear is debilitating, and it will hold your child back from playing their best. It will cause them to play timid and safe.
If you sense that your child is playing in fear, ask questions that will help them talk it out. What are you thinking about when you play? What’s one thing you don’t like about playing? Talk through the fear with them and help them face what they are feeling, why they are feeling it and what they can do to conquer it. (Check this resource on helping your child deal with fear.)
The apathetic one.
Parents get frustrated watching kids play who don’t seem to really care about the game. There were times when I wanted to shake my kid and say, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you trying? You don’t seem like you care at all!”
The fact of the matter is that kids who are apathetic about winning, about doing their best, and about improving will get exactly what they put into the game. And as much as I’d love to be able to give you an easy answer for apathy, I can’t. Discovering what motivates your child and why they are not motivated in sports is something you need to learn. Good conversations, asking probing questions, and simply observing your child when they are motivated about something will help you unlock the mystery. That and lots of patience.
The sore loser.
Sore losers are not just sore because they lose the game; they may also be upset that they don’t get want they want–playing time, playing the position they want, or making the play they wanted to make.
Sore losers are usually so focused on the negative that they cannot learn from mistakes and look for ways to improve.
The narcissistic one.
Skill is important in sports, but just as important is an attitude of being a team player. Athletes who are selfish, and who have an inflated view of their importance to the team are not loved by coaches. Their attitude can cause more harm to the team than their skill can add to the team.
More and more I hear from college coaches who are looking for athletes who have just as much of a team player attitude as they do the skill.
If you feel that any of these attitudes are hindering your child’s success, remember that youth sports is a journey and they can learn and change. Keep communication channels open and look for ways to help your child work through them. If you would like help, I’m a parenting coach and would love to help. You can schedule a free 15-minute coaching session here.