Sports are back. As Bill King wrote in a recent Sports Business Journal article, "Those at all levels of youth sports expect kids and teens to come roaring back to fields, and perhaps even gyms, this summer, as newly vaccinated parents welcome a return to "normalcy.”
Positive Coaching Alliance's Jake Wald put it wisely when he said, "Getting back to sports is an opportunity to reimagine why we play, why we sign our kids up, and why we coach. It is a chance to say, "from now on, we choose to do this better."It is a chance to recognize that youth and high school sports teach character and valuable life lessons to kids.
No one has missed screaming at referees, treating their opponents poorly, or complaining about playing time. They miss the chance to compete, the feeling of pride when watching their kid take the field, the emotional boost from being a part of a team, coaches who believe in them more than they believe in themselves. This break from sports has sharpened our vision and has allowed us to see what is important.”
Whether you are reading this as a sports parent, sports grandparent, head coach, assistant coach, leader, or athlete, PCA is here for you as are source this summer and beyond.
We spent the past year optimizing our interactive workshops, developing additional resources and creating new self-paced online workshops. Here is a sneak peek at four themes prevalent in our live and self-paced online workshops:
1. Remember that sports teach us life lessons
Use the life lessons athletes gained the pandemic to learn and grow athletically, emotionally, and personally. We have great power to shape the way our children think about themselves. Through the thoughtful use of“You’re-the-kind-of-person-who” statements, we can help them begin to think of themselves as capable people with positive character traits. “You’re the kind of person who is resilient and has really overcome the adversity in the past year”, is a great start to the conversation.
2. Recognize different degrees of impact
This last year has been very traumatic for some and a welcomed break for others. Make a point of connecting with each athlete individually so as to not make assumptions that everyone had the same experience. Consider having individual player check-ins. If you notice any behavior that is ‘off’ reach out to the student-athlete first, parent, counselor, etc. Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high with teens right now.
3. Engage in empowering conversations
When talking with our children about their sports experience (or any other experiences), kids will get the most out of the conversation when adults follow PCA’s guidelines for “Empowering Conversations”. Here are some of those guidelines:
Ask open-ended questions and LISTEN! As a parent, adopt a “Tell-Me-More” attitude.
Avoid the dreaded PGA (Post-Game Analysis). When the game, practice or activity is over, let it be over. Exercise the self-control it takes to refrain from continuing to coach your child or give your “expert” analysis of what transpired.
Resist the urge to “fix-it.” Parents tell us this is one of their biggest challenges and we understand! Taking this step allows you to move away from the helicopter or bulldozer parent stereotype that convinces parents to clear the obstacles or challenges their children may face instead of allowing them the opportunity to grow. It is confronting challenges with healthy support that maximizes development and builds self-confidence and self-esteem. Support, but don’t smother!
4. Encourage “Yet!” mindsets
Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of the research-based, transformational book,Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, taught PCA this tool. It is one of the most effective tools in nurturing a growth mindset, especially after the emotional challenges kids faced while dealing with the pandemic. When an athlete says something like, “I’m not good at dribbling”, the parent or coach immediately responds, “You’re not good at dribbling yet!" Go beyond with this strategy by encouraging the athlete to say the “yet” statements on their own as they practice again. This tool transforms a fixed mindset statement into a growth mindset statement.
PCA offers 6 self-paced online courses to help coaches, athletes, parents and officials create a positive youth sports experience.