Updated: May 31, 2020
Does your child play sports because they genuinely love it, or because you love it? Are they attending basketball and volleyball leagues and tournaments because you want them to be there, or because they genuinely love the game and they want to be there. We see it all at P2P Sports, and typically, with each child, it's up for grabs! Many live vicariously through their children, and want them to love what they love. Sometimes it's because it's easier to teach and parent in an arena where we know the rules, the strategies, instead of having to explore something new that is foreign to ourselves. There's a big difference between players participating because it's just "something they love", vs. "something that's expected". How do you know? What can you do to at least give your child an opportunity to explore the opportunity to find out what they love and what THEY WANT TO DO? Are you going to panic if your child doesn't have interest at a young age towards something you really want, or just enjoy the journey and let them feel it for themselves?
I can't remember the exact age I learned I love playing sports, but I know it just happened from the neighborhood rat-pack environment with all the kids in the area just playing games, baseball, basketball, football, and making up competitive games in any way we could! From running into trees scoring touchdowns and going home with bruises and bumps, to getting hit with line-drives at 3rd base, it was just a group of kids without any parents involved at all! It's a different generation now with the evolution of social media and other distractions, but the same remains true for 100 years before us, and will for the next 100.. the genuine love of the game comes from within, and is most influential when your child is asking you, "can I go outside and play with so-and-so!", or "can you drive me to the gym, or the park!" Most of the time whatever you have for a yard or sidewalk is going to be the playing field or court, and they could care less if it's regulation.
Every teammate or competitor I faced at the high school and collegiate level shared one common bond.. work ethic. Hundreds of thousands of shots every year, hours sweating running hills, lines, working on ball handling drills over and over. The majority of which were done on their own, in the gym when they were the only one bouncing the ball and willing to sacrifice "fun time" vs. "work time".
Probably the most disheartening part of owning P2P Sports is the lack of individuals who just show up for open gym to practice on their own, or a group of kids who walk in the door looking to just "play". It seems unless there is a coach or trainer visiting with them, most have lost the simple concept of just getting outside to compete and play with and against all of the other gym-rats who love the game as much as they do!
Here are some simple tips, from one person, take it or leave it... to help your child learn more about sports and simply pick it up on their own. Will it fester the drive-from-within?, or tell the story that is genuinely isn't what they want to do!
1. Educate them being good in anything requires practice. It doesn't matter if they love to draw, or kick a field goal. Teaching them the simple concept of practice, and the amount of practice and time it requires to really be good is beyond what most comprehend. Those who do, are the ones stealing the playing time, paper headlines, and record-breaking achievements as they get older into the levels where stats are kept, and it really truly matters.
2. Watch the game with them at home, TV, old school or current and just enjoy them seeing and hearing about it. What they learn on TV, and watching high level players perform and succeed is sometimes more valuable than what they will learn with a personal trainer.
3. Take them to local high school and college games. Places where competition is more important than the NBA showtime environment. The younger and more relatable to your child, the more they are able to see and feel maybe "that will be me someday!"
4. Get them outside and just let them play! Find the neighborhood park, and enjoy the time with your child just having fun. You will be amazed on how it attracts others of like-mindedness and ultimately will turn into an environment where pick-up games, and practicing just evolves.
5. Teach them the real development is about You, The Ball, and The Basket! It's lonely being good at anything because it requires thousands of hours alone, practicing, honing your skills and developing the work ethic required to be great! It doesn't come easy, nor should it if it's ever-lasting and meaningful.
Lastly.. don't rush it. Don't panic if your child is in 5th or 6th grade before they figure out they want to play and compete. 70% of the kids who start the game at the elementary levels quit before they ever make it to high school! Think about it! While most parents are scared to death that they must get their kid started early early, it's more likely they will push them away from the game more than they will ever influence them to become what they hope they will be at the high school and beyond levels!