An Olympian’s tips to surviving the world of youth sports
By Aimee Heckel
Soccer moms and “ref rage” are just the beginning of the challenges parents may encounter when they accompany their kids into the crazy world of youth sports.
Olympian Angela Hucles offers parents four tips to surviving the sports scene.
Hucles is a gold medalist for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. She works with Up2Us, a nonprofit designed to support youth sports. Here’s her expert advice:
1. First, help your child pick the right sport. Different sports have different personalities. Some are competitive, some are relaxed, some are more expensive than others. Pick the sport that fits your child’s needs. It can be easy to want to steer your child to play the sports you played as a kid, but that might not be the best fit for your child.
2. Support your child as he or she bonds with the team. Friendships won’t fuse overnight, but don’t push your child too hard to make friends, either. The evolution of a relationship will naturally grow, on your child’s terms.
3. Beware of bullying. Unfortunately, studies show 77 percent of all kids will be bullied while in school, and sometimes it happens on the field. If it seems to be a problem on your child’s team, you can help educate the coach and other adult figures by guiding them toward bully-prevention nonprofits.
If you see bullying behavior, let the coach or referee intervene. If they don’t seem to be handling it, inform the coach.
4. Encourage your kids, without highlighting their shortfalls. Use a strengths-based approach to push your kids to work hard and improve their abilities. Focus on the positives, not the challenges. Positive reinforcement will yield better results, without causing any harm or discouragement in the long run.
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