Yes, there will be tears. Following is an excerpt from my book Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sports. It is a fun read and helpful to parents. It has been out for seven years and still a consistent seller on Amazon. If you know of young athletes, pass the book info on to their parents – much appreciated. Amazon link here and below in biography. This section of the book cites one of the many instances when sports are not fun, and even produce the tears of heartache. Jack Perconte
Not Just a Game (from Raising an Athlete)
Anybody who has been involved in sports realizes that it is not all fun and games. There is hard work, failure and disappointment. How can we ever forget the famous line from the movie, A League of Their Own, when Tom Hanks whines, “There’s no crying in baseball?” Obviously, that statement is not true. Athletes compete, and the dictionary definition of competition—“contention of two or more for the same object or superiority”—suggests a struggle with a winner and loser, in and of itself.
Athletes are very passionate and determined and when things do not go their way, the emotions come pouring out. Most people see that in the grand scheme of things, sports and games are not life or death, but they do captivate our interest and bring out our support and emotions. When we see a famous athlete retire and get very emotional, we shake our head and say, “It’s just a game.” Well, yes, but when people pour their heart, hard work, and life into something they love, there will be tears; and to get to the top, love, focus and passion were needed. These three—love, focus, and passion—produce various emotions ranging from jubilation to despair. People share with athletes the good times, and that is usually enjoyable for all. However, when the emotion produced is sadness, it is not enjoyable and support is necessary to help athletes and parents……
Talent Driven Away
I could not wait to ask him. I had not seen my old friend for eight years, after he moved away at the age of twelve. You see, my friend Gary would practically beg me to ask his dad if he could come over to my house, after every game. He said his dad would let him if I asked him. So, I would. Gary going home with me immediately after games became a regular occurrence. I never knew why it was so important to him. We finally were meeting, after all that time, at a college football game. After awhile, I worked up the nerve to ask him why he always insisted on coming home with me after the games. After a slight hesitation, he said, “the fifteen-minute drive home with my dad after games was the worst time of my life. My dad was never satisfied with how I played, and he would let me know it. I couldn’t stand it and never played sports again after we moved away.”
Ron Hubbard said, “The biggest mistake an athlete can make is to be afraid to make one.” Parental pressure on young players is a given. Some parents place more pressure on their kids than others do, but it is always there and it may put a big strain on relationships.
Things Parents Can Do:
✧ After a game, ask “Did you have fun?” Let the player talk about the game if they want to, but don’t start telling them things they did wrong. Parents will create tension if they immediately start asking why they did or did not do something in the game. Talk about other events of
the day too. Revisit their performance later, either after dinner or the next day. Provide some positive ideas for improvement at this later time.
✧ The same goes when practicing together—do not immediately start giving instructions. Allow for a warm-up time and for a few mistakes before giving some constructive suggestions.
✧ Speak in a matter-of-fact voice when giving instructions, and save the emotional voice for when they do it correctly. It is always better to describe the action. For example, saying “that last throw or swing wasn’t correct” is better than saying “you cannot do it that way.” Placing too much emphasis on every game can put unwanted stress on young athletes. “Being there” for them does not mean parents have to physically be at every game.
✧ If the child seems to be more nervous when the parent is at the game, and is not having as much fun as they do at practice, the parent should miss a game from time to time or watch the game from a distance. This can help the child realize their performance isn’t the most important thing in their parent’s day, or life. It may be just the game pressure which is causing the extra nervousness, but it is worth finding out what is causing it. Most of all, parents should avoid the looks of disgust, the look away, the rolling of eyes, the words under the breath, and the negative comments when the player is practicing or playing.
Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is in the works. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 80 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos.