From The Bench…
THE CAR RIDE HOME – PART 3: Stress
By Mark Maguire – CoachUp Nation
The car ride home is an experience that helps deﬁne a parent/child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better, and allowed him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can be. This is your third ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.
How to stop dumping your stress on your kids.
Recently, I spoke to a group of baseball parents while their kids were beginning a Friday night winter program. I spoke about how our stress and anxiousness while watching them doesn’t decrease as they get older. It only increases. The players’ ages ranged from nine to twelve. Every player wanted to be there to improve his or her skills. Every parent desires to see their young athlete perform to the best of his or her ability, and hopefully, see their child go on to do something in their chosen sport. My son is sixteen, and he is now one of the young coaches this Friday night, instilling what he has learned from the game. I told the parents when my son was twelve, I chatted with him about what he thinks of me yelling from the sidelines giving him instructions and trying to inspire him. My son said bluntly, “Dad, it doesn’t help.” He went on to say that none of his teammates liked it when their parents called out. He was brutal in his appraisal, and it sort of stunned me.
I thought I made a difference. I certainly did, but not the difference I imagined.
In reality, it was the difference between my son enjoying the game and not; the difference between him learning from someone else without me interfering; the difference between him having his own pressures on the playing field and then also being loaded down with my stress that I unknowingly dumped on him.
That’s exactly what I was doing, unknowingly dumping my stress on him.
In my excitement I believed I was helping and inspiring when I was only increasing stress and anxiety.
Fortunately, my son is not an anxious kid. Thankfully, because of his mum, he is calm and collected. I wanted to be a part of that calmness and give him a further chance to do well. I decided that day when my son told me, “Dad, it doesn’t help,” to shut up and let him play without my interference from the side.
I asked the parents that first night of winter development to have that brave conversation with their child; ask them if they like all the yelling and instruction from the sideline. I told them there is enough pressure on our kids without having to be burdened with our excitement issues and inability to shut up. *
Nothing gives me more pleasure now than when my son says to me, “Dad, you really helped.” Isn’t that what we all really want to hear from our kids one day? They have the rest of their lives to gain their own stresses without sharing ours inadvertently from the sideline or the car ride home.
* There is NO fine line between cheering and calling out instructions. Cheer your heart out; applaud your child’s effort. Even clap the opposition team. All your child needs to hear from you after the game is, “I enjoyed watching you play.”
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The Car Ride Home Part 2: Opinions
by Mark Maguire of CoachUp Nation
The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent / child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself, understand my son better and allowed him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can be. This is your second ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.
Why you need to keep your opinions to yourself.
Opinions. Everybody has one, two, or a lot to share. You may not think you’ve got strong, adamant opinions; you may not think you blurt them out; you may think you have your tongue under control. You may even think, “So what? I’m entitled to my opinion and I’m free to express it!”
I was driving my son home from a baseball game and I asked him, “What did the coach say afterwards to the team? Did he bring up some of the same old stuff again?”
“Yeah he did,” my son said, “and he also challenged me to yell out to the other outfielders to whether they should go back or come in on the fly balls.”
“You always yell out,” I said.
“Yep, that’s what I always do,” he said.
“Did you say anything to the coach?”
“No, I just accepted it because he brought it up in front of the team and I wasn’t going to be defensive back to him.”
This is where I stated my opinion:
“The coach should have asked you first whether you call out or not and then say something after he heard your answer.”
My son said nothing. And this is where I really stated my opinion and blurted out something derogative,
“Rookie coach error.” I muttered.
I knew the moment I said it this would not be helpful to my son. He hears enough conflicting information from various coaches at different levels already. This wasn’t fair to him and it certainly wasn’t fair to his coach. I could learn a few things from my son by keeping my mouth shut like he did.
He didn’t let his disagreement with the coach affect him. He didn’t like it, but he got it off his chest with me. That was the end of it for him.
Not me. No way. I had to say something in response—something not helpful. I even thought for a moment to bring the issue up with the coach. I would have been cool, calm and collected.
But, I was about to become one of those parents.
I should have said, “If you disagree with your coach than maybe you can talk quietly with him during the week. If you feel neither here nor there about it, well done! You’ve taken it on the chin and you can move on.”
I spoke to him the next day and apologized for my arrogant opinion of the coach. The coach deserves every respect and honor; he gives up a tremendous amount of his time and energy to manage the team to the best of his ability.
No one is excused from the responsibility of monitoring our personal opinions. We can freely give them but are they constructive or destructive? Are our opinions beneficial or belittling?
THE CAR RIDE HOME – PART 1: INSPIRE
by Mark Maguire of CoachUp Nation
The car ride home is an experience that helps define a parent/ child relationship. Here are six topics that have helped me improve myself,
understand my son better, and allowed him to challenge himself to be the best athlete he can be. This is your first ride sitting in the backseat of my car listening in on our relationship. And if you’re wondering… yes, he did agree to everything written.
How to inspire your child to overcome their fears.
All our children have fears lying deep within them. Some fears are inconsequential. Most will ignore their fears and give little regard to how they affect their game. More than likely, if these fears remain undealt with, they can hold a young athlete back from successfully taking the next step forward or from enjoying themselves in the sport they’ve chosen. We are anxious to help our kids overcome their fears, but we often don’t get our message across. Why? Mostly, it is because of how we deliver our message.
We’re not communicating in a language and a weakness they can relate to.
Yes, weakness. That’s exactly what I wrote. Your child will relate more to you when they hear about your insecurities, your uncertainties, and your human frailties. And when you share them at the right moment, they won’t just feel closer to you; they’ll feel inspired by you.
In the last few years, my son has been reluctant to dive to catch a baseball because he feared he would hurt [his previous injury]. It’s an embarrassing problem a few teen guys suffer with and something that generally goes away as they get older. He’s a center fielder, and he’s expected to spread himself over the grass to make the catch if his speed can’t quite get him there; most of the time this isn’t necessary. However, there is the rare occasion he should have dived, but he didn’t. The lingering and undealt-with fear can speak quickly: don’t allow your [previous injury] to get hurt.
I shared a certain fear I had about umpiring in baseball games with him. I would flinch when I perceived the pitcher’s delivery was going straight for my face mask. And it hasn’t helped that I’ve umpired to catchers who completely miss the ball or the ball deflects off their glove, and I take it in the mask or in the body somewhere in an unprotected spot.
I would tell myself, “OK, Maguire, don’t flinch; wear it if you have to.”
Still, I was scared about being hit. Until, one day, I was watching an umpiring instructional video, and the speaker said, “You’re an umpire. Accept it. You’re going to get hit. If you don’t want to get hit, don’t umpire.” It was as simple as that. I overcame my fear because I faced the fact and accepted it. I resolved that I wanted to be an umpire, and getting hit is part of the job.
I said to my son, “If you want to be an excellent baseball player and go somewhere in the sport, you’re going to have to accept you’re going to hurt yourself while diving. If you can’t accept this, you’ll limit and hold yourself back.” I went back to him a week later and said, “I still flinch now and then, but I simply smile and tell myself to stare at the ball all the way into the mask; I’m an umpire, and I’m going to get hit.”
He came back to me three weeks later and was beaming. “Guess what, dad?” he said, “I dived, it might have been a bit sloppy, but I didn’t hold back.”
Moms, Dads, Coaches: Inspire them through their difficulties by being open about your difficulties and fears and how you fought your way to conquer them. You’ll see your young athlete expand their mind and challenge themselves to greater heights.