This is Part 2 of a 6-part series What Your Child’s Sports Coach Wants You to Know, sponsored by TeamSnap, a company that does its very best to give parents, coaches, and teams a tool that will facilitate clear and consistent communication.
When kids are small, ages 3-6, it’s all about FUN and minor fundamentals. But as your kid gets bigger, the dynamic of youth sports changes. I asked adults, like your child’s sports coach, who coach elementary age kids, what they want sports parents to know and this is what they said.
“Youth Sports is still fun, but it’s also work.”
Some things don’t change as your kids get older. And one of those is that your child still needs to be having fun. However, as your child grows, he needs to understand that you can have fun and work hard.
“With older kids in elementary, you really want to focus on fun still but begin to develop the basics and foundations of the game. I’m not thrilled about teaching them to win; I would rather coaches focus on what they give effort-wise individually and as a team.” Valeri Garcia, softball.
“The sport has to be fun. We always end our practices with a game. It can be relays, challenges, or team building activity. The kids always look forward to these.” Dean Alan Downes, wrestling.
“I tell parents while of course I want to win and will certainly try to, but at the end of the season if we don’t take home the 10u title it’s not the end of the world. If the girls had fun and became better players, then the year was a success no matter what our record was.” Jeffrey Stucenski, softball, soccer
“I push older kids a little harder to reach their limits. Yes, it’s still about having fun, making friends, and socializing, but they need to learn that there is a time and place to focus and get to work, a time and place for running loose and having fun. It’s important to balance work and play. But at the end of the day, it’s still about having FUN. You need to have a balance of both.” Joe Fraga Baseball, Softball, Football
“Your child should be learning the mental side of youth sports.”
Kids at this age need to learn that there is a mental side to playing sports. That mental side includes repetition, hard work, teamwork, and learning to focus. It is at this age that kids learn how to win and lose. And remember, winning is fun, but focusing on fundamentals is more important.
“Elementary age kids need to work on focus and repetition. They need to learn to just keep playing and practicing and to never be too hard on themselves. The more they practice and work on things, the better they will become.” Jeffrey Stucenski, softball, soccer.
“Kids at this age need to focus on what they do well and the fun they are having in competition and with their teammates. Winning is fun, but the outcomes are not the main part of playing. Learning to work hard and continuing to compete, even while losing, is really important. Learning what it means to be a contributing part of a team is really valuable.” Karl Norton, Ice Hockey,
“Elementary kids need to focus on respect for one another, respect for coaches, working hard so that they can be the best “THEM” possible. Focus on team work, that everyone has a job to do in order for the team to succeed.” Joe Fraga Baseball, Softball, Football
“Let them know that not everyone wins, it is just like life. I feel that you learn more from a loss than by winning all the time. Encourage, don’t critique or you will turn them off and they will shut you out.” Dean Alan Downes, wrestling .
“Remember, that this is YOUTH sports and these little athletes are just kids!”
In an effort to help their kids get ahead, many parents go overboard with clinics, private lessons, and travel ball. By the time their kids reach middle school, many quit–they are bored, burned out or simply tired of the parental pressure. If you want your child to play sports for many years, take it slow. He or she has many more years to develop.
“I preach that every wrestler grows at their own pace. In a few years their body type might change & their interests might change. Do not push them into doing something they are uncomfortable with and have them quit because you pressured them. Remember it is about the child, not you reliving your childhood. It has to be their idea to participate. Limit the number of competitions they participate in. If they do it all in elementary, what is their motivation to participate in high school when they have all the trophys, medals, and rings they could ever want? Let them be kids. They do not need to be involved in something 24/7/365.” Dean Alan Downes, wrestling.
“Parents, focus on what your child knows and what he or she wants to do NOW…not what they COULD be in 10 years. So much can change. The goal should be what they can accomplish by the end of the season and hope you did enough to interest them in coming back next year with enthusiasm.” Valeri Garcia, softball
“Your kid is not being scouted by the pros so stop expecting them to perform like they are. Let your kid have fun, make mistakes, learn from mistakes. If they make a mistake, it happens. Get over it. Chances are if we put you on the field with a glove or bat, you will probably do worse than they do. Let the coaches coach, let the kids play, you sit back and cheer. Enjoy it because before you know it, its all gonna be gone and they will be off to college or embracing the real world. In the blink of an eye, they go from elementary to HS ball and poof, it’s gone.” Joe Fraga Baseball, Softball, Football.
As your child progresses through elementary school, she will grow from chasing bugs in the outfield to chasing fly balls. During these years your child’s love for sports will either flourish or shrivel, depending on what kind of sports parent you are.
This post is sponsored by TeamSnap, who wants to help you focus on making your child’s youth sports experience a positive one. Their online team management makes your sports parenting job a lot easier!