The Tiger Woods of the early 2000’s was an absolute machine. With a perfect swing and the swagger to match, he was winning tournaments at a historic rate and doing it all in style. For many, Tiger single handedly transformed golf from a Sunday afternoon snooze fest into must see TV. For golf fans like me, he was electric. Yet, there was a part of the Tiger phenomenon that always annoyed me. It was his obsessive tinkering with his swing.
I remember watching him give interviews and talk about how he was altering various aspects of his swing in hopes of better results. There was one year where he supposedly overhauled his swing with major changes. I remember thinking to myself, “Dude, you have the perfect swing!” Personally, I don’t think he needed to tinker with it. I think he needed to enjoy it. Now, I fully recognize that Tiger’s obsessive attention to detail is, in part, what made him great. But, I have often wondered if all the tinkering eventually took some of the fun out of it. I’ve even wondered if he unwittingly injured the perfect swing.
When it comes to sports, it’s easy for all of us to lose perspective in many ways. And often when sound perspective goes, so does the fun. This is especially evident in youth sports. It’s one thing for a professional golfer to be obsessed with his craft. It’s quite another when that person is ten. Whatever a child’s future in a given sport may be, it won’t be as bright if it loses its fun. So, here are three suggestions for you to consider in order to protect your child or the kids you coach from losing the enjoyment of sports through misplaced obsession:
- Teach your kids that life is about more than sports – Though this sounds obligatory, a quick inventory of our lives can often leave us surprised at how imbalanced we have become. Prioritize other activities like your church youth group or volunteering at your local city mission. Engage them in something outside of the realm of sports in order to tangibly teach your kids balance.
- Teach your kids that life is about more than ONE sport – The sports organization I work with has intentionally encouraged kids to play multiple sports as opposed to immersion into one particular sport. We believe this will help them enjoy the various games and people instead of getting too serious too quickly about honing a particular skill.
- Teach your kids to pursue progress and not perfection – Perfectionism is toxic. It ruins the fun of sports and stunts the overall growth of young people. Create a culture on your team and in your home where even the most minimal progress is celebrated! In order to do this we must avoid the pitfalls of focusing too heavily on wins/losses, statistics, or some imagined version of what the kid or the team could be. Care for your kids as people, celebrate progress, and enjoy the journey!