Parents have fallen prey to believing a lot of lies and youth sports myths when it comes to their kids. And unfortunately, they have gotten into a myth-believing habit that gets passed down to their children.
I’ve listed 8 myths that are easy for young athletes to believe and just as easy for sports parents to help perpetuate. These myths are adapted from a book I recently read called Broken Escalators by Peter Haas.
Myth #1: The Anxiety Myth
In order for my dreams to stay on track, I must worry about them.
Work for them, yes. Plan for them, absolutely. Pray for them, of course. But worry will not make them happen. In fact, worry can work the opposite. It can have a negative effect on your child’s health, making him tired, stressed, and sometimes more prone to depression.
Some parents express concern that their children don’t seem to be concerned enough. Translation: my child is not worrying like I am, so she must not care very much.
This is simply not true. Some kids are worriers and some are not. Rejoice if your child is not and if your child is, encourage her to relax, and refrain from expressing your own worrisome thoughts. Worry will never make anyone’s dreams come true; hard work and persistence will.
Myth #2: Driver’s Seat Myth
Being in control is possible and will cause a lasting feeling of happiness and security.
In youth sports, there’s a lot that you can control and a lot that you cannot. If you do not want to get frequently irritated, then learn to let go of what you cannot control, and focus on what you can.
Your child may think that “being in control” will make him happy, but being in total control is impossible, and frankly, that’s happiness with a moving target.
Shoot instead to achieve internal contentment and peace. That is happiness that is anchored in place by your child’s understanding of what it means to let go of what she cannot control.
Your child cannot control the outcome, the refs, a hard coach, the other team or the spectators. However, he can control his own responses and choices. Total control is a pipe dream and will not bring lasting happiness.
Myth #3: The Over-simplification Myth
Athletes who are constantly looking for a promotion to make life easier are grasping at straws.
If only I make that team, earn that starting spot, or get that coveted award, I will be happy. The problem with that philosophy is that these are temporary fixes. Help your child understand that lasting happiness comes from within, not from your circumstances.
Myth #4: The California Myth
I’ve seen many athletes get sucked into the myth that the grass is always greener somewhere else. (There’s gold in Californial–let’s move out there!)
Maybe it’s a team or a school, or even a city your child is blaming for his problems or lack of success. The grass may look greener elsewhere, but that’s because someone has been watering it. If your child learns to focus on watering his own space, I’m pretty sure that it will turn green too.
Staying put is not easy, but here’s where mental toughness is learned. If your child needs some help with that, my friend Craig Sigl is a superb mental toughness coach. (affiliate link)
Myth #5: The Talent Myth
An amazing talent is the biggest thing that will get your child noticed. Of course, skill is important, but talk to any college recruiting coach and even some lower level coaches, and they are looking for kids who display teamsmanship and discipline, not just an amazing arm or a crazy fast pitch.
Myth #6 The Pot-of-Gold Myth
This is the belief that your child will finally be happy and feel successful when that golden opportunity, big promotion, or dazzling relationship come along.
I’ve seen this character trait in a lot of kids and young adults. They move on whenever they start to feel “restless.” They are always looking to the next job or next move to finally let them find peace and success.
Myth #7 The Goliath Myth
It’s easy for athletes to believe that they will never defeat their Goliath, and thus will never achieve success or happiness.
But the fact of the matter is that no one–no matter how powerful, how talented, or how intimidating he is–can stop you from working towards and achieving your dreams. If you run at the first “Goliath” to cross your path, running will become instinct.
The problem is that many athletes give up too easily. They see the “giant” and they assume they cannot defeat it, so they run the other direction.
Conquering those giants may take hard work and yes, your child may face failure along the way, but in the end, every giant can fall.
Myth #8 The Isolation Myth
I can achieve my promotion without anyone else’s help. We spend years trying to raise our kids to be independent (having self-rule and self-determination),but independence is not isolation (detached from others). Your child cannot have success if she tries to do it alone. She needs teammates, a coach, parents, friends, teachers–and so do you, mom and dad.
The honest truth is that no one achieves their promotion, their success, without anyone’s help.
If you or your child is falling for any of these youth sports myths, take some time to sort it out in your own mind, then have a talk with your child. Ask open ended questions that help him to see the holes in these myths. The result will be a happier and emotionally healthier child and parent.
If you would like help moving forward in coaching your child through some tough experiences in youth sports, please contact me for one-on-one parenting coaching. I can help you get un-stuck.