Blogpost, self-reliance

Tip the Balance

Parents are preprogrammed to be proud of their children. It’s only natural that there should be that bias. At one point or another, we have all listened to a parent gush over their child’s big or small accomplishment. It may be annoying to people on the outside but it makes perfect sense. The scale between pride and disappointment is naturally weighted toward a parent’s pride.

Conversely our own pride and disappointment scale seems to be weighted in the other direction. It is often easier be disappointed in ourselves rather than proud. Since we spend every moment with ourselves and know our every thought and shortcoming, it makes sense that our “pride scale” might be weighted toward disappointment. This doesn’t mean that it’s helpful or the way that it should be. So it is your job to TIP THE BALANCE. This does not mean that you should feel proud of yourself for everything you do. Sometimes disappointment is exactly what the doctor ordered. My suggestion is that you celebrate your successes just a bit more. Allow yourself to get on a roll because the other option is a little scary.

We tend to avoid actions that are associated with negative emotions such as pain, embarrassment or disappointment. Generally speaking to reach even the most modest forms of success, some pain, embarrassment or disappointment is necessary. So avoiding the actions that create negative emotions and having a scale tipped toward them is a recipe for disaster.

Feel free to use this clip as a response to anyone who belittles your accomplishments. Maybe even you!

So celebrate yourself when you do something good. We’ve each got our own level. Getting out of bed and showing up to work on time may be your success for now. Or maybe you’re trying to break the world record for pull-ups and have failed twice. Give yourself a break because most people aren’t even trying that. The internet and social media have plenty of people for you to compare yourself to in order to undermine what we’ve just talked about. F$%& THEM! You’re you! Measure yourself based on your own standards. If you were still 5 years old, your mom would be bragging to everyone about how you stopped wetting the bed. So look at yourself through the most caring eyes that you can imagine. Get out there and start doing things. Some of it will work out and some won’t. Regardless, you have the potential to be one hell of a person. Just give yourself a break if you’re not yet!

I’m proud of you! Go make it happen!

Pete

Blogpost

5 Ways to Avoid Youth Sports Burnout

EmSoccer.jpgI remember playing soccer as a kid pretty vividly.  There’s a smattering of games, practices, camps, travel and associated activities swimming around inside my head.  Perhaps I’ve forgotten but there was only one time that I ever considered “quitting” soccer and that was near my transition to high school.  However that was because I was considering going out for football.  So other than that, I truly don’t have a recollection of not wanting to play anymore.  Perhaps I’m wired differently because I also ran track through high school and into college.  Basketball got left behind as a sophomore in high school.  That was more of a “talent” and interest thing than burnout.  When you’re getting the token minutes as a freshman, the writing is on the wall.  I needed to get a lot better in order to be successful at the sport that was not my priority.

Define Burnout – With the quick anecdotes above, it’s obvious that I am defining burnout differently than just discontinuing participation.  There are seasons for everything in our lives and sports are no different.  Allowing one season to end in order for others to begin or become more prominent is not something to bemoan.  It is the natural order of life.

So what we are specifically talking about is the idea of saturation to the point of generalized overwhelm, exhaustion with and possible contempt for the activity.  Notice the underlined word, generalized.  Everyone has moments where the things that they pursue can become difficult in the moment.  Burnout is much more than that, it is a constant rather than a one off.

The following suggestions are not the only possibilities nor a silver bullet but rather the beginning of a conversation.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is a relevant metaphor here.

Give them an “out” – Even though they may never take it, giving kids a visible way out of something can be an antidote to burnout. This can come with some stipulations such as finishing out the season/year but the message should be clear “if you don’t want this anymore, that’s ok.”

Renew the contract – This may seem like the same thing as giving them an escape route but it’s not.  Kids do not process things in the same way as adults.  Even though they may know that the can get out if they want to, they may not evaluate that “want” regularly.  At the end of the season AND before the next, check in to make sure that they want to continue.

Align the goals –  “I love soccer/football/hockey/badminton/etc.” may mean something completely different to your child than it does to you.  Make sure that the goals that you and your child have for the sport are aligned.  If you’re thinking, “college scholarship” and they are thinking, “I love hanging out with my friends and the games” that disconnect is going to cause friction at some point.  There’s always room for changing course but if parents and kids are pointed in different direction, problems may arise.

Find the model – If your youth athlete has expressed an interest in play at some higher level whether it is high school, club, academy, college or professional.  Find someone who is at that next step and talk to them about what it takes to get there.  Do not try to jump steps.  Your 8 year old does not need to understand the training regimen of a professional athlete.  Most young players would say that they want to go pro.  That’s not the question in the beginning.  The relevant question in the beginning is do they want to practice when no one tells them to?

LOVE THEM, no matter what – This should be obvious and it probably is to you, as the parent.  Often messages get convoluted in the day to day grind of all of the responsibilities that we have.  Regardless of the outcome of games, tryouts, tournaments or anything else; your child should have an overwhelming sense that their performance and your love are completely separate items.

I hope that after reading this that you’re saying to yourself “I didn’t need this article!”  Nothing would make me happier!  The unfortunate thing is that many people do.  So if you could spread it, that would be great!  I’m extremely passionate about my sport of choice, soccer, and also helping young people.  Almost nothing is more disappointing to me than to see a child who had a love for a sport driven out of them.

Sports are a great opportunity to bring the best out of our children.  Let’s take that opportunity to raise our children up and not wear them down.

Make today a great day!

Pete

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