This is a hot topic in many sports now as the pressure on kids to succeed seems to grow each year. It has been noted by players, coaches and administrators alike that parents are now more involved than ever in the developmental process of their son/daughter as a student-athlete.
I think that there is a fine line to be drawn between “just enough” and “too much” but that line is sometimes difficult to decipher. As the child gets older, and the rewards for athletic success grow, it is easy to get caught up in the mix and lose sight of what is really important. This piece was passed on by a parent in our program and I think that it is a great read for anyone, coaches or parents, involved with sports to gain some perspective.
From personal experience, I can say that I was lucky to have 2 parents who prioritized my needs and wants throughout my athletic career and served as more of consultants than supervisors. My Dad (a former Penn State football player) and my Mom (lifelong fitness momma) were critical to my development as an athlete in my younger years but it was only due to emphasizing the basics and allowing me to figure out the rest. Growing up, they gave me 2 major rules that carried with me throughout my childhood athletics.
1. Every season, pick a sport (or 2)
My parents were big advocates of multi-sport athleticism and let me play whatever sport I wanted to early on. One particular thing I remember them saying in elementary school was “different season, different sport.” This led me to participating in martial arts, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, baseball, basketball, wrestling, football and lacrosse before I hit high school. I also dabbled in street hockey and other shenanigans throughout my neighborhood growing up but the important part was that it was my choice. Without trying all of these other sports, I don’t think I would have developed into the athlete I was and who knows, maybe lacrosse wouldn’t have been my sport of choice.
2. Whatever you do, do it 100%
This was a rule not only for athletes, but for everything in my life. Academics, extracurriculars, family, etc. Whenever my parents got on me growing up, it was always tied to my effort. Anyone who was fortunate to sit near my father when I was playing sports growing up most likely heard the words “Pick it up” and “Hustle Josh” to excess.
Personal success was not a priority of theirs but they wanted to ensure that I would work as hard as I could when given the opportunity. I can now appreciate that this was them emphasizing the process (work ethic) rather than the result (success).
These 2 rules may not seem like much but I am a huge believer that they were critical to both my enjoyment and success in athletics growing up. Having the choice to participate in whatever sport I wanted to allowed me to eventually choose to play football, basketball and lacrosse in high school. As high school went on, rule # 2 never changed and it allowed me to experience success in lacrosse and football (I shot the basketball like Shaq) and have options when it came to playing a college sport. I eventually chose to play a sport neither of my parents had played (lacrosse) at a rival of the college my parents went to (Ohio State instead of Penn State). I now look back on both my youth, high school and college days very favorably and am grateful for the experiences that I had.
When you look at your relationship with your kids, are you a supervisor, or are you a consultant?
Josh Funk, DPT, CSCS is the Founder and President of Lax Factory (www.LaxFactory.com), which is a comprehensive lacrosse program based in Western Maryland. With Lax Factory, he specializes in individual player development and is a club team coach throughout the year. Outside of skill development and coaching, Josh works as a physical therapist and performance coach. With his background he is able to work with athletes on a broad continuum of rehabilitation, training and skill development.
Josh’s lacrosse career began in Montgomery County, Maryland where he starred as a midfielder at Poolesville High School. After earning County Player of the Year Honors, Josh took his talents to The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, Josh earned All-Conference honors and was a captain on the 2008 team that went to the Elite 8 for the 1st time in school history. He then continued his playing career in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) where he played 2 seasons for the Minnesota Swarm. While playing professionally, Josh was a graduate student at the University of Maryland-Baltimore and earned his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree.