Here are a couple of rational, sensible and fairly unexceptional conclusions (in the right company) that I have reached about children’s sport:
- Children should take part in sport to get exercise, develop physical skills, make friends and to have fun. They are doing it for themselves, not for the parents or the coaches, the club or the school.
- Parents and coaches who bellow from the sidelines, criticise poor performance, place an emphasis on success and push kids towards specialising in a sport or a position in a team risk hindering their charges’ development.
And here’s what I feel in my heart, but you will read less often:
- I take vast pleasure and pride in watching my children play and do well at sports. It’s a visceral feeling only very slightly removed from the pleasure I get from playing myself.
- I know how competitive my children are, without any prompting from me, and that from a young age they have known that winning feels better than losing.
With three children, each heavily involved in one or more sports, my life is infused with the tension between my rational beliefs and my emotional responses. I also have plenty of opportunity to observe other parents and coaches as they navigate their way through junior sport.
Touchline Dad is where I write about my experiences and observations. I would be very interested to hear other parents’ and coaches’ views.