We all want our children to be successful in their chosen sport as well as in life. We have their best interests at heart but sometimes in our exuberance to offer them every opportunity we lose focus of what they should really be learning. Boundaries are often overlooked but essential for good life balance and a positive sports experience.
Don’t over schedule. Make sure there is time available for your child’s academics, friends and other interests as well as free time to do whatever they choose. Busyness is not a measuring stick for success. In fact, it may be the biggest factor combating success by spreading precious time and energy too thin.
Too much of a good thing: Don’t specialize too soon or feel that your child needs to participate in every camp, clinic or training opportunity to “keep up with the pack”. This is actually counter-productive and can lead to over-use injuries and burn out at an early age. Most sports will complement each other by training other aspects of the child’s body and mind.
Your child’s sport should not be the entire focus of their (or your) identity. Too much early specialization in a sport can lead to a one-dimensional self-concept. It also increases the pressure to perform well for building self-worth.
Be realistic. Only 30% of children who play youth sports will continue to play in high school. Of those high school athletes in the US, less than 5% will go on to become college athletes and less than 2% will receive full or partial scholarships. Less than 1% of college athletes turn pro. (NCAA.org) Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Set a budget and stick to it. Sports can be expensive. Multiple kids in multiple sports will multiply those expenses. You know what state your finances are in and should plan according to what you can spend. Let your player know that it is a privilege that your household dollars are allocated for their well-being and that it is their responsibility to ensure that those dollars are well spent on the investment by them performing to the best of their ability.
Say “No” to your child. (Gasp!) Handing your child an All Access pass to life may not be what they need to succeed. Parents’ time and money are finite resources and should be treated as such. If you can’t afford a camp or don’t want every night of the week scheduled by the hour, just say “no”. This also applies to saying “no” to other parents. Don’t feel bullied into having your child to sign up for every training opportunity available or leagues that require an hour commute unless this is something you find value in.
Set your limits for time and money and stick to it. If you have to stop and think about this for too long, then, yep – I’m talking to you.