As a coach and a parent I forget sometimes what sport really is...an opportunity to play a game you love. Sports should first and foremost be FUN. As a child I would get lost in a game of ball with my buddies at the park or in shooting hoops in the driveway until dusk. For me playing sports was a timeless endeavor of pure joy.
Sadly today for many kids playing sports feels more like a job than having fun. With the clear shift to focusing on a single sport that is played eleven months a year for many young athletes the sport they once loved has turned into an exercise in drudgery.
I see militant soccer and football coaches drilling their young players like they are preparing them for war. Eight, nine and ten year-old kids are having their love for the game systematically sucked out of them. Our societal obsession with sports and WINNING has trickled down to our youngsters and it is alarming!
In fastpitch softball we are not free of blame. In southern California we play well over 100 games covering nearly eleven months out of the year forcing the girls to endure grueling three and four game Sundays in triple digit heat, while putting them through three hour practices well into the evening on a school night. Is it really all for the love of the game?
In my latest book, How She Thinks is How She Plays, I advocate that a young athlete can become a consistent peak performer who also plays with tremendous passion ans joy. If your athlete truly is driven to be the best and loves the long hours of preparation and competition then great! However, for most young athletes sports is part of a balanced life that includes academics, family and friend time.
Softball can be great fun, even in the most competitive of environments, if you properly frame it for her. Allow her to have fun first and achieve second. Her on the field success will be heightened by her relaxed and joyous approach to the game. The stress and anxiety brought on by excessive expectations will have a diminishing effect on her performance.
So the next time you are inclined to push her like she is training for the Olympics recognize that sports should be a joy and not a job!
To learn more about creating a consistent peak performer who plays with passion and joy go to: http://www.WinnersEdgeSoftball.com or http://SoftballSmarts.com.