Guest Author - Paula Petrie
When you make the commitment for your child to participate in organized sports, you are committing to lessons in self discipline for your child; the sharing and joint efforts of teamwork, and experiences with putting his best foot forward. You are also committing to living and breathing the sport, a life of endless family commitments for the benefit of that sport, and lots of (sometimes dangerous) travel.
For me, there are serious problems within amateur sport today, ( more pressure, more injuries, and parents or coaches with very unhealthy perspectives) stemming from the financial potential available to professional athletes, or sometimes the embarrassment of a child's lack of natural ability. The associated desire for stardom has leeched into a time when sports should be still fun-first, a break from responsibility, or an innocent desire to achieve.
With youth inactivity at an all time high, why do we segregate the elite athletes to push their bodies and minds, often with a great amount of associated stress. Why do we send the rest home to play video games, with a sense that their athletic performances shouldnít be seen in public? Should kids who would love to participate be restricted by finances or transportation?
Instead of dragging a few families through the financial, time, and travel commitment wringers, we could organize more local teams from all interested kids. More kids would develop confidence and strengthened self-esteem, become fit, and learn many valuable skills that doing away with class in youth athletics could bring about.
Team sports do offer excellent opportunities for learning self-discipline, accepting ones responsibility to others through teamwork and following direction, and pushing yourself to give your best effort. All kids should have the benefit of these insights.
That said, two great book choices for families heavily immersed in team sport activities and trying to make their own way through are:
The Home-team advantage, the critical role mothers play in youth sports, by Brooke de Lench.
This book deals with a more sensitive side of organized sports. de Lench looks at the way sport time commitments cause that sport to become a family lifestyle. How the financial commitment can create tension within the family, and what you can do to provide balance with family and sports. de Lench offers ways to take control of your child's sport instead of being controlled or victimized by it.
She also looks at the responsibility mothers have too ensure children are gaining positive experiences from the game. de Lench offers ways to make certain kids have a good coach that respects them and tries to impart life lessons in a caring way; how to spot abuse and protect kids from serious injury.
de Lench believes kids should learn and maintain the perspective that itís not the winning itís the struggle that counts. This book is written to inspire and empower mothers to venture from the role of frustrated spectator to active contributor and change initiator, for their childrenís sports activities.
A book on the flip side with a surprising amount of common ground is the professional male athleteís perspective in, Raising An All-American, helping your child excel in athletics (and in life,) by Devin Durrant.
This book discuses the virtue of being hard on yourself and how motivating it is when kids encounter coaches that are unforgiving as well. The importance of living and breathing a sport to improve and become all-star material. The importance of mental as well as physical toughness to meet the challenges of winning in sport.
He also covers areas such as forcing yourself to practice through tiredness, the differences between soft-road, and hard-road parents on a childís ability to achieve, and how a child can be their own coach and be coachable on a team.
Durrant sets up plans to follow on the path to becoming an All-American athlete. This is a genuinely inspiring book for those with a burning desire to succeed in professional sports.