Preparing Parents for the Commitment of Youth Sports
Over 35 million children ages 5-18 take part in youth sports. Some children play because it gives them an opportunity to try something they enjoy. While others participate so they can be with friends.
Some children have to poke and prod their parents to play a sport; while others are registered by their parents then later told about it on the car ride to their first practice. No matter how they are signed up or the motivating factors to participate, when children play a sport, their parents take on their own set of obligations. Some parents are well aware of the responsibilities, but others are surprised to learn what is expected of them.
Just as athletes are expected to give time to participate in an activity, the parents have to be willing to commit themselves in many different ways. It may involve driving to and from practices or games. It may be assisting the coach, baking the highly sought after post-game treats, or organizing a team photo. But from the outset, many parents don’t realize how much time it takes for their child to participate in these activities.
Often, sports are viewed as a benefit for the parents. While their child is at practice or games the parent has a newfound freedom to complete personal or family tasks. But what parents learn quickly is that sports programs require them to spend more time with their kids than they did before. The time spent traveling to and from games and practices is consuming; not too mention the time attending games, matches, or meets. When it all adds up, there is a stark realization that the commitment to youth sports has become much more than what was expected.
Get Ready to Start Early
Kids are starting earlier and earlier. Sixty-seven percent of boys and 47 percent of girls are already on teams by age 6. You read that right! Essentially, if your young family isn’t on a team by kindergarten, their peers likely will be. Studies also show that children are extremely impressionable at this age. This is a golden opportunity to participate with your children at this young age, set a good example, and have some fun.
Your Child is Making a Commitment, and You Should Too
The commitment to youth sports will likely require the parents and other family members to make sacrifices. From leaving work early to catch a late afternoon game or abolishing Taco Tuesday family dinner nights to get to an evening practice, you and your family will have to make sacrifices.
When children invest in something, the parent often becomes part of it as well. This commitment is what helps your child succeed. Having constant support and engagement in their early years of sports provides encouragement and confidence to persevere later in life. For young athletes, one of the most important impressions made is how their parents spend their time in support of their interests. Rushing to a game or volunteering to operate the scoreboard takes effort, but it is worth it. These small acts create a lasting impression that communicates your support to children, not only in sports but in life.
Part of Your Commitment Should Be the Fun Factor
Sports and kids are often a great combination. It’s a great physical release. It teaches teamwork. It teaches overcoming adversity. It teaches how to lose. It teaches how to win. The list goes on and on. Kids should be jumping into sports and staying long-term, right?