Big Playbook


A generation ago, most of us played outside, all-day, everyday with friends. We played stickball, four square, capture the flag, run the bases or swam in the pond. We grew up and the world of organized sports opened up in middle school where we played a fall, winter and spring sport all the way through high school. There wasn’t much talk of playing a sport in college. Folk tales arose about athletes who magically plucked from their small towns and turned into superstars. Olympians were legendary figures straight from Olympus. They had to be.

These days, parents are looking for organized sports for their 3 and 4-year-old protégés and screaming from the sidelines in hopes that their offspring will show signs of going pro by the time their 5½. Kids are specializing by second grade and playing one sport year round so they have a shot at securing a D1 scholarship. Parents are investing gobs of money in private lessons and seeking training earlier and earlier, happy to dream about the future and boast about their phenomes. We’re possessed with providing and pushing our kids to become the best and achieve the highest. How’s this working for our kids?

Sports have goals. Clear goals.

So, what’s the goal?

Why does your child take part in sports and why do you do what you do as a sportsparent?

Take a knee.

What if both parents took a deep breath, had a Gatorade, and talked on the bench for a few minutes to figure out what your kids are doing and why? (for real…no BS, but why are your kids involved in sports?) Knowing the goal helps everyone know why they’re playing the game and what the game plan . It will help in decision-making and in keeping the correct perspective and role as a parent.

Some things to define:

• What’s the point of your child being an athlete as they grow up?
• What are your child’s goals? What are your goals for them? Do you both agree on those goals?
• In general, what do you hope for your kids’ futures? Define their future success.
• To what degree does being an athlete have an impact on your child’s future success?

All three of my kids are high-performance athletes. It’s always been their choice and they have clear, ambitious goals that we, as parents, have supported and agreed to partner to achieve them. Over the years, the reasons for participating in sports has evolved and what we do, how we handle practices, schedules, our meals, decisions on what teams/coaches and the level of training all has shifted accordingly. I am clear on “our” goals to keep our game plan smart, view of wins and losses appropriate, and our attitude and investment in alignment.

What’s your child’s goal? What’s yours?


Mohammad, MaryLou, Michael, Billy Jean, Lance, Shawn, Lindsey, Venus, Troy, Tiger, Mia. Champions.

cham·pi·on (chmp-n)
1. One that wins first place or first prize in a competition.
2. One that is clearly superior or has the attributes of a winner

When you watch your child on the field, court or pool, it’s easy to drift into sparkling dreams of district all-star, state championship MVP trophies, college scholarships, bowl rings, gold medals, pro signing bonus’, sponsor contracts and their first name having instant recognition. We hope, want, maybe, even expect our children to stand out and be recognized above others. We want to raise a champion; those who win first place or the highest prize in a competition.

We may go into overdrive planning how to provide our kid with the best coaching and training facilities and exert tremendous emotional energy towards “motivating” them to become a champion. The premise is that if our kid works hard enough, they could get a spot on the travel team and one day get that scholarship or be the next multi-million dollar player. Is that true? If a child practices early enough, hard enough, wants it bad enough, will they be the one who wins first place or the highest prize in a competition?

What if we shifted the goal to the second definition of champion: one that is clearly superior or has the attributes of a winner? What if we defined a champion as one who takes their physical, mental, emotional strengths and makes them as superior as possible, becoming a winner by challenging personal abilities and maximizing their individual potential to as high a level as they can attain?

If we define the goal for our children as helping them become all they are designed to become and making the absolute most of the abilities they have, then couldn’t we all raise a champion?

What are your child’s greatest strengths and how are you maximizing them?

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. –Anna Quindlen (not an athlete, but an American author and journalist)


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