My first child wasn’t into sports when he was young. In college he started to play on recreational leagues. I was the envy of other moms who had to schlep their kids to practice several times a week and who couldn’t sleep in on Saturday. I didn’t realize what my son was missing. If I had to do it all over again, I would have focused more on getting my son involved in something he loved, whether that was sports or another activity. My poor first child was definitely my motherhood trial run!
My second child decided this year to try lacrosse at the age of eleven. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned.
1. Even though the league web site says that new players are welcome they really would prefer if your child has been playing since he or she exited the womb.
2. Make sure that the crazy atmosphere that sometimes surrounds sports and the games does not tear your child down. Don’t contribute to the crazy! I do this by staying positive and focusing on improvements rather than mistakes.
3. Your child is strong, resilient and determined, more than you can imagine. Believe in him or her!
4. Don’t put your fear or insecurities on your child. I am physically in pain watching my son play and feel like I’m going to hyperventilate. I am afraid he will fail. He will sometimes fail. He will often times succeed. This is life. This is HIS life.
5. Anything can be achieved if you are willing to work hard enough. Use sports to teach this lesson.
6. There are many different types of people in the world and some of them aren’t so nice. Don’t take their stupidity to heart….instead let it roll off of your shoulders. I may have been secretly proud when one cocky player made the other goalie cry and my son decided to give him the middle finger salute. I would never admit to that though.
7. Coaches are there to mentor the kids and to teach them how to play. Some coaches are better than others. Coaches are human beings, not sport gods. Dear coaches…..remember that your behavior can make or break a future player. We’ve been lucky to have some really great coaches this season. Trust me….if we get a rotten apple he will have to go through me before taking my son down.
8. Sports is not only athletic, it is a mental activity. Miss a shot? You can either mourn it and throw the rest of the game or get back up and make the next one. Same thing with life. Get back up!
9. If your child ceases to love his sport don’t force him to play. Find something he loves. Interests change!
10. Take sports with a huge grain of salt. Most of these kids will not go on to be professional athletes. My son’s education, his dreams and his other activities are more important than holding a stick and throwing a ball. Sports is a peripheral activity. Don’t lose sight of what’s important. Your child may be a star sports player with crappy grades going nowhere fast. That’s a long way to fall. No one will care after school is over.