The photos below show how sports programs bring kids, parents, and coaches together. The Stompers (younger players)were the designated “host groupies” for the New Jersey Witches at a girls softball tournament in Broomfield, Colorado. Early in the week the Witches cheered on and coached the Stompers. When the Stompers completed their games they cheered on the Witches for the final three days of their tournament.
In between games they ate pizza, braided each other’s hair, signed autographs, played leap-frog and duck-duck-goose and braided each others hair. On the field both teams were extremely competitive at their respective levels. They had smiles on their faces because they had fun learning new skills and playing the sport. At all times the kids, parents, and coaches worked together to make the softball tournament a positive experience for all participants. Among the smiles, hugs, and high fives one player raised the question, “Who says girls can’t wear a skirt playing softball?”
The above situation worked for three reasons:
The athletes had fun! They were happy when they hit the ball and they smiled when they missed it. They cried when the ball took a bad bounce and hit them in the nose, but ten minutes later they were laughing again when they found their nose wasn’t broken. They were engaged, they tried hard, and they improved. When they improved they became more motivated to learn.
The parents supported their daughters by making sure they attended practice, played on days when they didn’t have practice, and showed up to games ready to play. After practices and games, they greeted their daughters by telling them, “We enjoyed fun watching you play today.”
The coaches understood the mantra, “Don’t be your kids last coach!” Their goal was to keep their kids playing sports. They created a climate where the athletes smiled, had fun, learned from their mistakes, and became better players.
Youth programs are most effective when the parents and coaches work together to make sure that the athletes remain the focal point of youth programs.