As kids get ready to start playing sports, parents may wonder how to offer encouragement without pressure. Parents play an important role in keeping sports fun, says Neil Jeter, former Toronto Blue Jay and coach of three New York kids' baseball teams (and cousin of Yankee shortstop Derek): "Your child's first coach is you." His tips:
- Take an active interest in the sport. Learn what you can about it, and practice with your child. "Your involvement validates the child's interest," Jeter says.
- Don't put too much emphasis on winning and losing -- it's more important for young players to learn the mechanics of the game. And congratulate your child when he improves his technique.
- Involve your child in buying the equipment. She'll enter the game with confidence if she feels comfortable with her gear.
- Let your child take a 15-minute break from practice when he says he wants to. He may be feeling frustrated and will only feel worse if he has to keep going.
Find the right coach. Every child is different, and a good coach will treat all the kids like superstars.
Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the September 2001 issue of Child magazine.