The season is over, and the disappointment is GREAT.
You and your kids hobble into the minivan, and it seems that the regret and frustration will swallow everyone up.
A difficult season—or a depressing end, to one—can feel like everything was “all for naught.”
But was it REALLY good-for-nothing?
Certainly, something valuable came from it, and it’s ALWAYS worth celebrating the achievements your kids have —
regardless of how small the victory may feel.
Once the emotions have settled, it is helpful to take your athlete through a personal inventory and look at the benefits gained—that go beyond the win/loss record.
Here are 3 areas to look at.
1) Athletic Skills
Acquiring athletic skills and improving upon them is the name-of-the-game in all sports. And no matter what your child’s level is, time and effort are needed to get better.
That is exactly what each athlete is given in a season—time to practice skills, and an opportunity to put forth a regular effort.
Even if your child had limited playing time during games, he certainly had many hours of practice. And the result is almost always growth.
Ask your athlete to think through these areas and look for any—and all—progress:
- Body position came more naturally
- Footwork got faster
- Hand-eye coordination became more accurate
- Defensive strategies were more effective
- Physical strength was gained
- Cardio conditioning paid off
Small wins always need to be recognized and appreciated. Remind your athlete that every sports-specific skill they worked on during this season will serve them well in future endeavors.
2) Mental Skills
Performing better—individually and as a team—involves having the right mindset. But just like physical skills, improving your mental game and attitude requires regular practice.
Fortunately, a challenging season provides ample opportunity to work on many of the psychological aspects of performance.
For example, a difficult period where your athlete just couldn’t seem to improve her stats will force her to pay attention to her “mental muscle.”
Encourage her to look for the gains she made in these strategies and abilities:
- Staying focused in the moment
- Visualizing her ideal state
- Positive self-talk
- Showing grit under pressure
- Controlling emotional responses
This aspect of sports does not usually come naturally. Parents and coaches can teach young athletes to be aware of what’s going on in their mind, and use it to improve overall performance.
3) Social Skills
Learning good sportsmanship is a benefit many parents anticipate when their child first joins a team.
And yet it’s another skill set that comes from hands-on experience, over time.
If your child happens to be a very developed athlete that ends up on a weak team the disappointment may really test his responses and behaviors toward his teammates.
Spur him on to look closely at these aspects of sports participation:
- Did he learn to look out for the well-being of others?
- What did he learn about trusting teammates?
- Was he acting in a way that others trusted him?
- Did he sacrifice on behalf of the greater good?
- Did he make some new friends?
For some kids, the social aspect of sports comes more naturally. In fact, it may be the most important part. However, for more competitive athletes, it may seem insignificant. Determine which end of the spectrum your child is on and point them in the direction of a more balanced outlook.
Find the Silver Lining
There is so much to be learned during a season of sports. But sometimes in the letdown of a disappointing season, we lose sight of all that has been gained.
Teach your athlete to find the silver lining in every mistake, obstacle, and setback.
It will not just make him a better athlete but will serve him well in life.
Now It’s Your Turn
Usually, the most prominent lessons have been learned in the hardest moments. Share with us one time that you or your athlete progressed forward THANKS to a difficult season. Your story could be exactly what another parent needs to hear.