Encouraging the youth to stay persistent through sports

Published 5:37 pm Monday, July 1, 2019

As someone who grew up playing sports since I was able to walk, I know how much they taught me through my years. The agony of defeat or being struck out, the euphoria of a walk-off or buzzer-beater win, you learn a lot about yourself, and it shapes your character. Sports prepare you for the ups and downs that life throws at you on a regular basis. You learn that on a team, the whole is more important than the its individuals.

A viral video circulating social media about “The ride home” is said to be the reason why most kids are quitting sports at an early age. The video is trying to portray what parents do immediately following their sons’ or daughters’ games. They ask their child questions about a play or, on the contrary, why they weren’t playing. In the video, the parent asks his son if he only wanted to play because his friends are on the team, and the child remains quiet. The video shows a stat that 70% of children quit sports before high school because of the ride home. The video is trying to illustrate that you shouldn’t confront your children about mistakes until hours after the game or practice is over, because no child wants to hear negativity after experiencing something negative like a loss or not playing.

However, there comes a point in life when the child has to decide for themselves whether they want to get better, or if they don’t want to pursue the sport. As a parent, you want your child to perform at their highest ability, so you push them and encourage them to be better. Without speaking up, sometimes children may go through the motions without improvement.

The ride home was a vital part to my personal athletics career. It was eye opening. A coach for children at a young age is likely a volunteer. Not to say he or she doesn’t know what they’re doing, but they likely won’t have that one-on-one time with another child other than their own. A coach might try to correct a mistake, but wouldn’t spend the time a parent would to try and correct it.

Yes, sports are meant for children to have fun, just like school, but they’re also meant to help them learn. In both regards, if you’re having too much fun, then you’re not learning. In school and in sport, teachers, coaches and parents take notice of the fun to learn ratio. In school, it’s a call to home if it gets serious enough. In sport, the coaches typically just let the parents talk to them.

Parents should always mention to their children when they notice that they look like they don’t want to be there, they’re not paying attention or playing around too much. If they are, they’re wasting their time. If the main objective isn’t to improve their skills, maybe they should reconsider playing.

Without constructive criticism, a player cant improve. Strengthen your child’s skills to listen, adjust, learn how to overcome adversity and strive to get better every day. Eventually, those ride homes won’t be so negative anymore, and they will understand how to be successful in more than just sports.