Youth sports coaches and kids with low self-esteem
Years ago, a single-parent mom was worried about her fatherless son, age 9, who had a rather low self-esteem. The game of baseball lifted his spirits, however, one of his summer baseball league coaches was “gung-ho” on winning and constantly criticized her boy and his teammates whenever an error was made. Her son took these reprimands to heart and came home after practice with his head held low. She wanted to pull him out of the summer baseball league if the abuse continued.
Many parents of younger athletes are searching beyond the win-lose mentality; they feel a need exists to make youth sport leagues more “child-friendly” places.
The sports environment can grow unfriendly for younger kids like the one described above. They can gain much from a summer league baseball coach who instills a love for the game by emphasizing good effort, skill-building and teamwork through encouragement and compassion.
When competition, winning, and fault-finding become the core values of a kid’s baseball team, the devotion and “love of the game” soon fades away. Could this be the reason 70 percent of kids who start in organized sports drop out by age 13?
Psychologists studied the impact coaching behaviors had on 152 children in a summer baseball league. The boys with low self-esteem playing under trained, encouraging baseball coaches showed dramatic rises in their feelings of self-worth and love for the game, while the other boys did not.
Fortunately, the vast majority of youth sports coaches don’t sacrifice the physical and emotional well-being of their players for their personal desire to win. The son of this single-parent mom, and millions of youths like him, could benefit from joining a youth sports league and interacting withone of them.
A great resource is the National Alliance for Youth Sports (NAYS) at 1–800–729–2057. NAYS runs over 2,200 chapters and conducts online clinics to train volunteer coaches in the psychology of coaching kids.
Robert Morton has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership and Policy Studies at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio. In retirment, he authored three spy thriller novels: “MISSION OF VENGEANCE”, “PENUMBRA DATABASE”, and “THE SHADOW WAR”.