Sometimes, it takes a break to gain perspective. Learning to set goals for the right reasons, evaluate an individual athlete’s performance based on healthy and achievable goals and aspirations, requires a very delicate balance. If this is not mastered, it can cause the love of a sport to quickly turn to a sport that feels like a dreaded obligation.
After a 2 year break, our son decided to give the swim team another try. We had basically put swimming on a shelf, in a box full of the memories, meet results, accomplishments and unrealized potential. When he made the decision to get back in the pool, we were thrown back. It was pure luck we were able to sign him up for the summer team since the deadline had passed and the team had practiced for almost 2 weeks.
Our perspective has changed because we know what the result can be. We just want him to swim and love it. The rest will work itself out…but only if the pressure to perform he feels is healthy and comes from within.
Our goal as parents is to help him focus on HIS goals and accomplishments and not to fall into the trap of comparisons and the destructive competitive mindset that often plagues youth sports. It’s hard not to fall into the trap, even for adults, and it takes discipline to back off when the tension is in the air. We live in an ultra-competitive culture, but only if we allow ourselves to get caught up in the back and forth mental tug of war of competition can it grow and consume everything that is positive about youth sports.