Sports parents, if you have found yourself dwelling on the negative things that are happening in your child’s youth sports experience, I’d like to give you some advice to help pull you out of the downward spiral:
Start looking for the gorilla!
In this world-famous awareness test from Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, the viewer is instructed to count how many times the players wearing white pass the basketball.
Amazingly enough, half of the test group did not see the gorilla. How is that even possible? How can you not see that ridiculous looking gorilla walking through the middle of the circle?
The short answer, according to Mark Batterson in his book, The Grave Robber, is what’s called inattentional blindness. Inattentional blindness is the failure to notice something in your field of vision because you are focused on something else.
Are you so focused on your child’s mistakes, your child’s lack of playing time, the position your child isn’t playing that you think he should be, your dislike of the coach’s strategy, or a myriad of other things wrong with what’s going on in your child’s youth sports experience right now that you are missing the victories? Are you inattentionally blind to the awesome “gorilla” that is in the game your child is playing?
Small victories are subtle. They do not jump out at you. And if you are focused on other things, the chances are very good that you are missing some really cool stuff. Like the fact that your child is learning to take risks, or that she dove for the ball (even though she missed) and is showing more fight. Or maybe your child is showing leadership by being an encourager to his teammates.
These small victories are often the “gorilla” that we miss because we are too busy counting points or tackles, or shots, or mistakes.
The thing is, I’m pretty sure that if sports parents started paying attention to the “gorilla” that walks through your child’s game or match or sports event, they would be able to go home with a smile on their face, parental pride in their heart, and gratefulness for the small victories that they would have otherwise missed.
How about you? Are you paying attention to the “gorilla” in youth sports?