It’s almost here…just around the corner now…so close you can almost taste it.
It’s the start of something special, the start of something exciting, the start of something new - the start of the season.
Your young athletes are preparing for tryouts and dreaming of making the team. Coaches are drawing up practice plans. Administrators are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on schedules, practice spaces and travel plans.
Of course, parents are preparing too - organizing team contact lists, scheduling carpools and assigning roles.
As a new season approaches, everyone is sharing in the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the hope of a great, winning, satisfying season.
One More Hope: A Responsible Sports Season
At Liberty Mutual Insurance, we understand and share in your excitement, and we want to offer one more hope for you to share with us: the hope that you enjoy a Responsible Sports season.
So this month, with the assistance of the experts at Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), we’ve prepared some pre-season steps you can take to set the stage for a Responsible Sports season:
- Determine Kids’ Goals: Why do your kids want to play sports? What are their goals? Have you ever asked them? You might be surprised to hear their answer, from simply, "to have fun," all the way to, "to become an elite athlete." Ask your children to write down all the reasons they want to play this season, and then ask them to rank their Top 3. But hold up…don’t look at their lists just yet.
- Understand Your Goals: Before you see what your children wrote, perform this last exercise yourself. Why do you want your son or daughter to play this season? Is it to gain self-esteem, to learn to deal with disappointment, to make friends or to earn a college scholarship? Make a list of all the reasons, and then rank your Top 3.
- Work As A Team: OK. Now you can look. Go ahead and compare both your lists. Do you want the same things? Having different goals and objectives can be the start of a tough sports season – for both parents and kids. If there’s a wide variance, spend the pre-season working to get on the same page. Prioritize your goals, and then forge a powerful partnership to reach those goals.
- Embrace A Mastery Approach: Athletes of all levels, from recreational to world-class, succeed when they adopt a Mastery Approach. By focusing on what they can control, and letting go of what they can’t, a sense of calm, purpose and focus emerges. Whether you’re the coach or the parent, talk to kids about the importance of giving maximum effort and making a commitment to learning and improving. Find out what each athlete wants to learn this season and set a plan to help teach those skills. Then remind your young athlete that incorporating those skills takes time, effort and dedication.
- Open Communication: A Responsible Sports season kicks off with parents and coaches starting out on the same page. Coaches: host a parents meeting at the beginning of the season. Share your coaching philosophy. Articulate the process you’ll use to determine playing time and roster spots. Share your information and ask parents to contact you if they’re concerned about anything. But also, ask them to respect the coach-athlete relationship and allow their athlete to raise issues with the coach directly before intervening. Ask team parents to join you in a pledge to maintain a Responsible Sports environment.
- Commit to Feedback: Coaches: during that first parent meeting, let parents know that you value their opinion and you’ll conduct post-season surveying. Let them know up front what criteria you’ll use to measure their satisfaction with the season.
- Have Fun: Sometimes, in all of the season planning and organizing, we forget one core truth – we play sports because it’s fun. Remind yourself, and remind your young athletes. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with pre-season details, take a deep breath and watch your kids kick around a ball, shoot hoops in the driveway or speed down the road on their bikes. They play because it’s fun, and we stay involved to help them have fun.
So as the season fast approaches, join us in our pledge to enjoy a Responsible Sports season – a season filled with sportsmanship, life lessons, great competition and exceptional athletes, coaches and parents.
If you think there’s anything we should add to our preseason checklist, or just have an idea, question or feedback on ensuring a Responsible Sports season email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.