There are many families involved in youth sports and activities that want to provide their participating children with the opportunity to make it big, the opportunity to earn a scholarship. These opportunities come in the form of teams, trainers, camps and ranking systems. It has become increasingly more difficult for parents to distinguish between legitimate opportunities and distractions. To find the difference between these two, there is a simple evaluation parents can do to determine if the activity is helpful, healthy and if it will truly lead to long-term success. First, you must ask yourself…

Is it really about the kids?
As parents and coaches, we must be mindful to not push our young players too hard in a direction at the first sign of interest and talent. Doing this will turn the activity into a job that the child is doing to please the adult, instead of doing the activity because they enjoy it.

Second, honestly ask yourself these three questions: 1) how much of the activity is actual skill building? 2)  How is the participation affecting the kids confidence? 3) Are the kids having fun in the process? The importance of these three aspects of any activity can change the way a child reacts to the activity they are involved in.

  1. Skill Building and Development
    Too often we mistake wins and losses for skill building and progress. In youth sports, wins and losses are usually determined by physical maturity and aggressiveness. But it should go beyond just developing skills to be successful in a tournament or competition, but instead developing skills for future participation and for life. Do you have a matrix of skills that your athlete is working to attain? Are there values that you’re hoping your child gets from participation? Values like work ethic, teamwork, humility and resilience. Are these values truly being instilled?Isaiah Watts
  2. Confidence
    Participation in sports should provide the right balance of success, failures, challenges and rewards. The right program should establish a growth mindset in youth, and the confidence to make mistakes and grow from them, rather than being afraid to make those mistakes again. The key thing here is to understand the difference between confidence, overconfidence and arrogance.
  3. Having Fun
    We all know that any activity that involves competition and development is not going to be all fun and games, but it is very important to routinely check in with your children and make sure they are enjoying the process and help them keep struggles and perspectives in prospective.

Effort, enthusiasm and repetition are the most important factors for future successAs parents and coaches we must be mindful not to push our young players too hard in from the beginning. We have to be the ones that work to make sure they are getting the skills and confidence it takes to have them want to participate while having fun at the same time.

Watts Basketball is Seattle’s premiere institution for player development. Through basketball, we teach strength, concentration, tenacity, and enjoyment of the game. We do all this because we believe basketball skills empower personal growth. That’s what makes us Gamechangers. For Life.

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