It was the family’s first water polo tournament this past weekend.
It’s worth spending time to understand what YOU want from sport. This will let you see if your desires line up with the reality of your sport-of-choice.
I’ve seen enough to decide it’s best if I focus primarily on my kids’ sport.
I have one overriding goal for my kids.
Create an enduring positive association with exercise.
Former athletes, bitter athletes, non-athletes… they can lack the positive association and it costs them.
It is easy to get distracted by winning, skill development, playing time, parent board politics…
Create the positive association!
So, when I watch:
- Sit passively and try to learn what’s going on => my kids don’t do “my” sports
- Very little feedback => only positive, given 1-on-1, after they’ve slowed down from the event
- Be seen in the last third of practice (it’s the only part they remember) => use the first 2/3rds of practice to do something useful => I buy groceries then read a book
- Phone put away (ideally in airplane mode – warn your spouse you won’t be taking pictures or answering questions)
- Listen to, and work through, coaches => reinforce a consistent message => you need a team (and school) culture that matches what you teach at home => if your teen tracks into a single sport then her team becomes a key reference point, at an important transitional point in her life
- Ample healthy snacks afterwards => do not train the “exercise-sugar-reward” cycle, as it will haunt them forever!
- Drive them with no music, no electronics => create a forum to ask about life issues => no taboo topics, everyone gets to speak (or not speak)
If you’d predicted that I would enjoy doing the above, even three years ago, then I would have said you were high.
The fact that I look forward to these times shows I am incapable of predicting where life will take me!
Take the above together:
- Dad is there
- Dad’s not on his phone
- Dad talks about anything
- Food rewards are healthy snacks => strong food
- Dad is always happy to see me afterwards
Building these habits was a major pain in the rear.
The phone habit is a tough one!
I’ll end with a story.
My son is the youngest on the team and he has a concern, he might drown.
Bro, there’s no way you’re going to drown. You’re going to pass out and that’s no big deal.
I’ll Superman into the pool, we’ll pull you out and I’ll stay with you until you wake up.
You can even go back in, if you want.