Jeff Farris
In a car, a sudden swerve or overcorrection can sometimes lead to an even greater risk of a serious accident.  These overcorrections are caused by a driver's mistaken sense of time and force.  Either a driver reacted too quickly or with too much force.  In youth sports, overcorrections are likely to occur after a game or a practice.  Parents, sensing an emergency with their child's game, apply too much force in too little time and turn a problem into a potential accident. Before solving emergencies, parents first need to diagnose, analyze and then formulate a plan of action.  Problem areas parents should consider include:
  • Were there external distractions such as problems at school or with friends or siblings?
  • Were there physical difficulties such as an illness, lack of proper nutrition or insufficient rest?
  • Is there a diminished lack of interest in the sport caused by burnout or a lack of time for other activities?
  • Is physical conditioning in areas such as stamina or strength adequate for playing an entire game?
  • Does a lack of fundamental skills hinder more advanced play?
  • Is there a good understanding of strategy and positioning so that a young player knows how to react in specific situations?
  • Is the child playing at the right level of competition?  Playing with kids who are much more or much less talented can be demotivating and slow improvement.
All of the above problems can look like a lack of "hustle" from a parent's perspective on the sidelines.  If it is not clear what the problem is, parents should have a positive conversation with their child or with the coach to better identify the problem and the corrective actions necessary.  Sports is a learned activity and requires time to master.  However, the age of the player and the length of time between events gives parents plenty of opportunity to take the right actions to correct sports emergencies.
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