Perspective is Everything for Sports Parents

by | Sports Parenting | 0 comments

Sports parenting is both challenging and rewarding.  It can bring out the best and worst of us from moment to moment.  In this post, we will share how sports parents can better support their young athletes, and reduce their own anxiety, by adopting a new perspective on gameday.


Perspective isn’t always a given when it comes to the most important aspects of our lives.  Our family, friends, health, and careers are all areas where passions can get the best of us.  Parenting is right at the top of that list, and “sports parenting” in particular, is often a trigger that can evoke our strongest emotional reactions.

Parents can have strong opinions about youth sports

We’ve all been at youth sporting events where a fellow parent has expressed their strong – and vocal – opinions about the action on the field.  The commentary about which kids the coach is playing, the calls the officials are making, or even how a particular kid could make such a bad play.

As uncomfortable as it is to overhear, that behavior doesn’t typically emanate from a bad place.  We all care about how our kids perform on the field.  It impacts their emotional wellbeing and status amongst their peer group.  But placing such emphasis on singular outcomes misses the point, leading only to anxiety and a narrowing of perspective.


To be certain, something primal stirs deep down inside as we watch our kids run out onto the field.  We can’t help but live vicariously through their sports lives because we want them to succeed and achieve more than we did in sports.

Achieving more might equate to playing high school sports, earning a college scholarship, or (dare I say it, or think it, or even dream it) play professional sports one day.  But despite how much promise a young athlete demonstrates, the reality of a professional sports career is quite the long shot.

According to the NCAA, only 7.3% of high school football players will go on to play at any level of college competition, and a mere 1.6% of that group will ever be drafted into the NFL.  The odds for high school basketball players are even longer with less than 4% playing college ball and 1.2% playing in the NBA.


The director of my son’s little league program once began a parent meeting with the fact that the league had been in operation since the 1950’s and tens of thousands of kids had come through the program since its inception.  He asked if anyone knew how many of those kids ever made it to the big leagues or even the higher ranks of the minor leagues.  While the answer was just a small handful, he jokingly concluded by saying he was certain “our kids would be the next.”  It got a good laugh but also put our role as sports parents, as well as the ultimate purpose of youth sports, into a new perspective.

The fact of the matter is, our kids aren’t going pro.

Not in sports, anyway.  Which beckons a shift of focus away from future athletic prowess toward a greater opportunity – namely, using youth sports as the centerpiece to prepare kids for challenges outside the bright lights and big stages of the sports arena.


Youth sports can be viewed as a true microcosm of life, offering an incredibly rich backdrop from which to identify, teach and reinforce essential life lessons.  All one has to do is alter their perspective and an endless array of teachable moments will line up like bowling pins to be knocked down one by one.

A kid’s lack of playing time becomes a lesson on perseverance.  The bad call made by an official becomes a real-life example of overcoming adversity.  And that error on the field can instill the work ethic to improve and do better the next time.

Those scenarios just scratch the surface of what’s available to parents – handling success and failure, setting goals, building confidence, rewarding effort, instilling determination, consistency, dedication, resiliency, humility, respect, teamwork, sportsmanship – you name it and you can find it out on your local ball field.


Parents use youth sports to support and teach their kids essential life lessonsThis shift in perspective offers an added benefit too – it all but eliminates the stress and emotions of gameday.  Every play on the field, whether good or bad (or even ugly), becomes an opportunity to teach rather than a setback to a kid’s athletic future.

The time young athletes have to play sports is finite.  For most kids and parents, it will be over seemingly before it even begins.  By entrusting the play-by-play to the participants on the field, parents can better appreciate the joy kids have in playing and maximize their own enjoyment of this fleeting time.

And in doing so, take comfort in the knowledge that those experiences will prepare kids for their future endeavors, even if it happens to be outside of professional sports.


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