This quality does not come easy any more these days. If you thought being a teenager was tough when you were growing up, imagine it today! Social media dominates our lives and nothing goes undocumented or unnoticed any more. Our youth will live the rest of their lives through the lens of the rest of the world where anybody and everybody can have an opinion, pass judgement, and act like assholes and then just put their phone in their pocket and continue with the rest of their day.
To make things worse, we don’t teach our youth how to handle failure, disappointment, and even constructive criticism. In fact, we go out of our way to avoid these things: We don’t keep score and we hand out participation trophies. I can’t tell you the number of times I have taken a young athlete through an evaluation session and when I tell the athlete (in the presence of the parent) that they need to get faster and quicker the parent immediately jumps in and starts making excuses for their kid. “Well they just had a game yesterday”, “they are sore from their tournament last week”, or “he just came from soccer practice.” My assessment wasn’t a personal attack on your kids’ abilities, it was my professional observation after having tested thousands of young athletes of various sports.
This avoidance of disappointment does not only apply to our youth these days either. The number of times I have had adults come to me and say their doctor told them the reason for their lower limb aches and pains is due to strength imbalances and movement dysfunctions rather than being honest and letting them know they need to lose some weight to take pressure of their joints happens all the time. Everybody is afraid of hurting people’s feelings, and it’s because we haven’t been taught how to handle these moments.
The biggest mistake I see parents make these days to avoid failure and disappointment is letting their kids quit a sport because they aren’t good at it. A kid quitting a sport because they aren’t having fun can be traced to coaching, but that might not be the only reason. If your kid isn’t good at a sport, chances are they aren’t fast, they aren’t as strong as the other kids, and they don’t possess the coordination to perform the skill…yet!
If your kid is weak, slow, and out of shape, they probably aren’t going to be good at that sport, and if they aren’t good at that sport, they aren’t going to have fun, and if they aren’t having fun, they are going to quit! Guess the number one reason why kids quit sports these days? (http://footballscoop.com/news/7-reasons-kids-quit-sports-and-what-it-means-for-coaches/)
Training isn’t about running a faster 40-yard dash, squatting two times your body weight, or being able to dunk a basketball. It is about instilling confidence in your abilities. It is about learning that If you want something you have to work for it. I cannot tell you the number of times I have had the parents of a new athlete come up to me after having trained for their first week saying “my kid is so much stronger and faster on the field already!”. I wish it worked that way! I didn’t make that kid better in one week, I made them more confident! They get on the field telling themselves they are prepared for this; they have trained for it!
A former colleague and friend of mine Josh Aycock used to say “we want our young males to be confident enough to ask the hottest girl in school to the dance” and “we want our young females to be confident enough to turn down the biggest jock in the school to that same dance.”
Sean Herrin, MS, CSCS, CES