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March – Youth Sports

March – Youth Sports

“Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose-it teaches you about life.” ― Billie Jean King

My mom has always joked that the time and money spent to have me play youth athletics was way better spent than bail money and jail time. That may seem like a lighthearted explanation, but as I reflect on this concept and now having my own kids in youth sport the why behind it is so much more.

Between games and driving from two different venues this weekend I had some time to reflect on the reasons why so many families choose to participate in youth athletics and the positive benefits that are associated with the crazy schedules, pressure, and commitment.

  • Having a young athlete means I have a child who is physically healthy enough to be able to play and can also receive the benefits of an active lifestyle. Every day I could my blessings for my healthy family.
  • Children are able to learn the positive values of winning and losing. Being humble when winning and learning lessons when a loss may have happened. It is my job as a parent and coach to help my child who is play or may be watching what it means to win and lose and lead by example. There is emotional excitement when winning, but the negative feelings of a loss can tear an athlete apart. Teaching athletes how to work through these emotions is key. It’s ok to cry whether they are happy tears or sad ones.
  • As a family we spend a lot of quality time together attending and participating in sports. Our car rides and time between games are typically spent in conversation or playing cards. We also get to spend time with so many other wonderful families showing support to each athlete that steps on the court/field/floor. We have already created so many memories that will last a lifetime.
  • Important life skills are developed and refined by participating in sports. Skills such as teamwork, cooperation, and building up each person around you (whether they are on your team or a rival team) are demonstrated during each game and practice. As a mom and coach, it is my job to ensure my children are actively working on these skills. I need to show them that it is not hard to say “nice shot” or you had a really good game. As humans we tend to focus on what we are doing wrong or how we are not enough. I encourage you to remind your athletes of all the good that happened during game no matter what the score may be.
  • When someone is part of a team you are showing up and being accountable to not only yourself, but also a team. You are making hard decisions on how to schedule your time and prioritize commitments. You don’t leave people hanging or left wondering if you are going to make it.
  • As much as sports are a physical activity there is a huge mental piece that each athlete needs to be aware of. Anxiety, nerves, and negative self-talk are common mental and emotional items that athletes and all children deal with. Working with children to understand these mental aspects of the game is so important in raising a child and working on helping them become adults who are able to positively process their feelings and emotions.
  • The piles of laundry and dishes that pile up from running around will not matter. What will matter are the smiles, laughter, tears, conversations, time, and memories made together as a family and team.

Each of these items strongly effect our emotions not only in the sport being played, but also in how someone conducts their day-to-day life. If we do not help our youth process the emotions they may experience in a healthy way they become trapped and can cause disharmony in the body. As parents, coaches, spectators, and family members it is our privilege to take the opportunity to lead by example and show each young athlete how to conduct themselves before, during and after an activity. We get to make them feel safe and help them work through how they may feel about how a game went.  Over the years the first two things I try to ask my kids after a game are “did you have fun” and “did you do your best”. I feel like if these two item are accomplished, the rest will fall into place. If their answer is no, then we have an open conversation about why not.

If you know a young athlete who struggles to process their emotions whether it be in a game or in everyday situations I would love to have a conversation to see if sound therapy may help these feelings be processes to help them feel more balanced, calm, and at peace.

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