Is your child competing against another player for playing time?
All three of my kids faced this situation at various times in both middle school and high school. Even though it was a challenging experience, it made them all better players.
If your child is competing with a teammate for playing time, here’s a simple way you can turn this challenge into a positive experience:
Teach your child respect. No matter what you or your child thinks of the teammate he is competing against, it is your job as a parent to set the example and discuss how to treat a competitor with respect. It is imperative that you avoid the typical, “you’re-better-than-him” or “you-should-be-playing-over-him”, talk.
Help your child decide what improvements are needed. If your child asks for your assistance, then help him to figure out where it is necessary for him to improve. Perhaps he could ask the coach what his weaknesses are and work on improving in those areas.
Encourage extra effort. If your child wants something badly, then he needs to work for it. This may mean extra time in the weight room, at the batting cages or in speed training. Relentlessly pushing your child, especially against his wishes, is not necessary and may not be beneficial. Instead, at your child’s chosen pace, provide support and opportunities for him to improve his skills. This may be enough of a push to help him reach his goals.
Stress sportsmanship. This type of situation provides a great opportunity for your child to learn what being on a team is really all about. Being a good teammate is not about him getting to play the position he wants or getting the playing time he believes that he deserves. Being on a team means putting the team above individual desires. This is a lesson that many children will have to re-learn over and over.
As a sports parent, it is important to remember that the child who is competing against your son for playing time is not the enemy. I’m sure that all three of my children initially viewed their competition as the enemy. However, it didn’t take long for them to realize that in fact, those teammates were a blessing in disguise.
The competition my children experiences pushed all of them to become better athletes.