I had the privilege of presenting to parents and their student athlete kids earlier this year in what I called “College Preparation Workshop… Preparing your kids for success”. It was one-part college preparation and two-part what parents can do to help prepare their kids for success and not just in their sport, but for success outside of their sport.
The college preparation is pretty simple and direct. You have things you need to do; rules you have to follow to prepare for college. For example, some of the “do’s” include things like Treat your college search like a job search, conduct college visits, attend camps and clinics. Some of the Don’ts include not waiting too late, talk to a coach who is recruiting like a friend or post inappropriate things on social media. These examples are pretty straight forward, but what about the other stuff that is equally if not more important.
Some of the points that I shared in the workshop were: Parents have to be truthful with their kid. Too many times I hear parent sugar coat the truth when the kid needs to know. This is different than screaming or putting your kid down because that should never happen. But if our kid made a mental mistake we should use what happened as an opportunity to teach. I heard a parent a few weeks ago yell out to their kid that the big mental mistake they just made that cost her team the game was a good play, that it was ok. This not only puts the youngster who is feeling bad, in a tough spot because the teammates want to say something instead of comforting the kid which is the first response. But when the parent makes her comment that changes the dynamics.
Another point that was made was parents have to make sure the kid is playing for the right reasons and not for the parent. Especially if the goal is a scholarship because it takes a lot of work and not everybody gets a scholarship to the big school that they all dream about. According to statistics only 1% of all youth athletes that participate a sport will receive a college scholarship. So what happens to the 99%? I am sure many of them still go on to college, earn a degree and have a full life, but what did they get out of the years they participated in their sport? The answer lies with the parents and the coaches they play for.
The final point that we discussed was the importance of helping the kid create a process that helps them identify their dreams, create SMART goals and an action plan to make their dreams come true and make a vision board and write a vision statement that speaks to what the future looks like.
I said it then and I will say it here, when softball or whatever sport the kid is playing is over, what life skill set will they have? Even if the parents don’t get it, just by knowing that when we have a plan, we feel good and that our level of performance is a direct reflection of the way we feel inside and when we feel good, we perform better.
If parents settle for coaches who are only interested in winning and losing then that’s what their kid will get, some wins and some losses. However, if parents require coaches to teach their kids life skills, principles of success, teamwork and how to set goals and achieve them, the athletic scholarship will be the cherry on top not the all or nothing prize that 99% of them will never experience.