Wednesday, February 15

Part 2: Do We Ask Too Much of Our Kids (The Written Version)?

My video post on Sunday on whether we ask too much from our kids received a huge response, so I must have struck a chord with many of you. Since it is not 5:30am, and I am not rushing out to coach I thought I would take more time to dive into the question of whether we do, indeed, ask too much of our kids?

The irony of my video post on Sunday is that my team persevered through another long day, making it to the semi final game (and losing in the last inning), while overcoming cold and wind (about 45 degrees) until about 7pm...and the 90 minute drive home.

I was remarkably proud of my girls and their enthusiasm despite the elements and long day. Of course it helps that we were winning all day! Several of the girls commented on how early they had fallen asleep Saturday night after our 4:30am wake up call. Some of them could be seen doing school homework during our only game break of the day.

This question of "whether we ask too much of our kids" is first and foremost an individual, kid specific, matter. Some kids would be happy playing 24 hours each day, while others complain loudly having to rise before 9am on a Saturday or Sunday.

Regardless of which category your athlete falls into here are a few things to consider along the way:

1. Is your athlete getting enough rest? Inadequate rest will lead to the inability to focus, less energy and moodiness; all of which will cause a diminished level of game performance. You and your athlete should plan ahead to be sure she gets to bed early the night before games, and has a pillow and blanket in the car to sleep on the drive to her games if necessary.
My daughter and I in 2009

2. Is your athlete eating/drinking right? Late nights and early mornings on game day can cause meals to be quick and non-nutritious. Proper hydration the night before and during game days is essential to your athlete performing optimally, as dehydration can result in slower reaction time and reduced concentration levels. Lunch breaks on game days are frantic I know, but come prepared with fruit and LIGHT snacks. I cringe when I see players wolfing down nachos and chili cheese dogs within minutes of game time!

Make 2012 your athlete's best season yet.


3. Get your athlete to start mentally preparing herself for the weekend's games on Friday. If it's no secret she is in for a long day or two she has no excuse then for not preparing for that inevitability. If she expects the long day and she wants to perform well she should recognize the need for sleep, getting ahead on her homework and visualizing her success in advance before she goes to bed at night and first thing upon awaking in the morning.

4. Ratchet down your expectations. As I covered in my video insanely early mornings or long hot days in the sun will tend to diminish any athlete's performance, particularly a young one. Give your athlete a little more room on those long days and expect a little less from her. I'm not suggesting that she give any less effort, but her results may not be up to par at 7am, or after her fourth game of the day. Your excessive expectations when she is tired or mentally fatigued will only serve to further damage her game performance.

5. Honest communication with your athlete. In my own daughter's case she finally decided she'd had enough of the 5am trips to the middle of nowhere to play softball all weekend. As she told me, "I only have so many weekends left (at 14) before college and I don't want every one of them to be around playing softball." Just some food for thought. Maybe your athlete has similar feelings but is afraid to tell you? Periodic conversations on the subject would probably be a good idea, to be sure you are both on the same page with her commitment to the sport.

Do we ask too much of our kids today? Probably.  I do, however, think we have a new generation of super achievers that genuinely love the competition and the challenge of success! However, as adults we must remember that our kids are...kids. We must strive to provide them with balance in their lives, to create memories and life lessons in as many enriching ways as we can for them.  Sports, and softball in particular, is just one area.

With my own daughter, on one of our many early morning or late night drives to or from games, we used to get a good laugh about how crazy what we were doing was (and for sure my ex-wife felt that way!)! But I will never forget all the fun and interesting times we shared together traveling as far away as Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Utah for tournaments, or to much closer So Cal venues.

Make the most of these special and crazy moments together with her because all too soon these days will be gone forever!

Please post your comments below on whether you think we ask too much from our kids?

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