Putting the Positive Back in Sports

As a mom of three sporty kids, I am constantly driving from soccer to volleyball to swimming and back to volleyball with a pitstop at soccer. Well, you get the idea. My kids play lots of sports. To my husband and I, it makes sense.

Coach Dad was unable to play sports in high school due to a sick mom and a dad who worked 6 days a week. He had no one to pick him up after school. By the time he got his license he was involved in other high school activities — It’s Academic and debate. Yep, he was a nerd.

I was not a sports person in high school. I was never on a team. I dabbled in tennis, field hockey, netball — English version of basketball where you don’t bounce the ball, but throw it, rounders — English version of baseball, which you play with a ridiculously small bat. Yep, I was not a sporty person.

My school was divided in to 4 houses — think Harry Potter without the broomsticks. Our house was St. Catherine’s — we had the most sporty girls in our house. Every competition or game was a win for our house as we had Donna Gibson, Collette Foudy, and Anne Moran. The prowess of these girls meant that all the rest of us had to do was our best. BTW, Donna Gibson was the grandaughter of Sir Matt Busby, the owner of Manchester United — my hometown soccer team.

Which brings me back to my kids and their experience with sports. Over the years we have been blessed with some great coaches — including Coach Dad — and some very positive team experiences.

The secret to a good team experience for kids is as follows:

  • a coach who cares about teaching the kids the game rather than winning at all costs.
  • a team of kids who want play the game and will play to the best of their ability.
  • a group of parents who cheer for their kids and the other teammates and the opposing teams kids.
  • a league that puits kids on teams with their friends — kids play better when they are playing with kids they know.

Sports and the positive quality of each sport:

  • Soccer — every kid can have fun with soccer…run, kick, and save the ball.
  • T-ball — a great first team sport for the 4-6 year-old group.
  • Basketball — a sport that teaches kids to play with their teammates rather than being a showboat. Kids learn to pass to teammates and help each other.
  • Lacrosse — a difficult game to learn, but a thrilling game to watch. In a short time, players learn the intricacies of the game. Players have to talk to their teammates as a play can be ruled invalid if one player is out of location.
  • Volleyball — a game that requires kids to think about what they are doing rather than just hit the ball any old place.

I cringe when I hear parents criticize the play of their kids. I frown when I hear a coach berate his players. I smirk when I see a ki kick a soccer ball in his team’s goal — I know that that player is on top of the world even though the goal will not count.

As parents we need to provide positive sporting experiences for our children. What is the use of screaming at a 5-year-old to hit the ball already when the kid is trying her best. Why not encourage the child to practice more or congratulate the child when he makes even the smallest connection with the ball.

As a mom I want to help my children to be good citizens and good people. I’m realistic about any of them making it to the Olympics or the World Cup or the NFL. The benefits of sports are evident when I see my 10-year-old help her brother to play socccer. Or, when the 13-year-old takes the time to show the 10-year-old how to serve a volleyball. Check out this website: ResponsibleSports.com for more information on being a “Good Sport”!

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