Youth Sports Goal Setting
New Year’s day means different things to
different people. Certainly, spending time with family and friends and
watching some great college bowl games. In our house, a new year also means
It started about 15 years ago when my
wife and I were on a ski trip together – before kids. It was one of those
days in Taos, New Mexico where the snow was coming down so heavy that you
couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. For some people, the fresh
powder might make for great snow conditions, but for us, it was a great day
to sit by the huge fire in the ski lodge and “plan our lives”.
We had a great talk that included when
we wanted to have kids, financial planning and lots of resolutions –
including our goals for work, working out, sports, and how we wanted to
work out our relationships with the people in our lives. Believe it or not,
we sat there for 9 hours and we had fun doing it. Now, every year, we talk
about goals with our kids.
All of our kids already have goals, but
they may not share them with us. Our job as parents is to help them focus
on the correct goals, help them achieve their goals, and later, we need to
help them deal with the disappointment of not reaching their goals.
Goal Setting With
The first thing we need to work on with
all of our kids is education. For each kid, at every age, they can focus on
their schoolwork; improve their skills, and getting their homework done on
time. Of course, they can also work on their relationships with parents and
their siblings – something that never seems exactly where it should be.
However, as you know, we at SportsKids are all about youth sports – so
let’s focus on sports.
Here To Continue…
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Coach’s Corner, Continued
All the kids I know say
they are going to be professional athletes. Now, there are some kids who say
they are going to be doctors, lawyers, business people, the president of
the United States, or something else, but again, this is SportsKids. My
eight year old son, who doesn’t really know who Danny Ainge is, wants to follow
in his footsteps and be both a professional basketball player as well as a
professional baseball player.
Now, maybe some of our
kids will end up being professional athletes, but the statistics say
otherwise. Most kids won’t be playing organized sports past the age of 12.
Very few high school athletes will ever play NCAA Division I sports and
almost none of those will ever play professionally. Knowing this, of
course, shouldn’t diminish our kid’s dreams – that’s what they are supposed
to be doing – dreaming! So, as parents we have to help our kids reach their
Should We Help Our Kids?
Keith Hirabayashi is a
good friend of mine. Many of you may not know who Keith is, but if you like
martial arts you would know; he has been five time Grand Champion at the US
World and US Open Karate Tournaments. He was named Weapons Competitor of
the Decade, thanks to his expertise with the staff, the broadsword, and the
three-sectional staff. He's a member of The Black Belt Hall of Fame, The
Inside Kung-Fu Hall of Fame, and The Fighter Hall of Fame. In addition,
he's been listed among the 100 Most Influential Martial Artists of the Last
Century by Black Belt magazine. I’ve had many talks with Keith about goal
setting and how he reached the pinnacle of his sport.
Nobody who starts out
is great their first day, but they can think big. The trick, as Keith
taught me, is to break your dream into manageable steps – something that’s
hard to do, but achievable. When Mr. Hirabayashi first started Wushu as a
boy, he couldn’t envision becoming “Competitor Of The Year” so he started
with something easier. There was a kid in his class who was “great”. So,
Keith wanted to one day be as good as that guy. One day, he was that good.
Then, he wanted to be as good as the assistant teacher.
Coach’s Corner, Continued
Finally, he surpassed
his teacher, became the best in the world and now founded Champions Martial
Arts, a studio in Brentwood, California.
In order to accomplish
each of these resolutions and goals, there are a few rules that you need to
follow. You need to know what you are trying to accomplish. The goal needs
to be specific, measurable, and have a time limit. A person also needs to
know why they want to reach the goal and then lay out a real, manageable
plan on how to accomplish their goal.
Being a great martial
artist, or being great at anything, requires a plan. Start by setting small
goals to ultimately reach a larger goal and understand each step. A kid
needs to layout a plan for practice, competition and study of their sport.
Realizing that practice makes permanent, parents need to make sure their
kids are practicing the right fundamentals. Playing a sport only during the
organized practices and the games won’t get a kid to reach their potential.
If your child plays an instrument, you wouldn’t allow them to not practice
between lessons. “Pistol” Pete Maravich, one of the 50 greatest NBA
players, practiced literally all the time because he knew that some other
kid was practicing and getting better than he was. Set small, measurable
and achievable goals, lay out a path of how the goals will be accomplished,
and then watch the results.
Starting with the premise that our kids aren’t
going to reach their ultimate goal of becoming a professional athlete should
in no way diminish the benefits of dreaming, setting goals, and working to
accomplish each of the resolutions. It’s imperative not to forget the many
benefits to playing youth sports, including teamwork, good sportsmanship,
developing motor skills, learning to win and to lose, and the friendships
that are created along the way. Most of our kids will figure out and
realize for themselves that they won’t be a professional athlete, but if we
help them set small, achievable goals, practice proper fundamentals, and
set out a specific plan to accomplish their goals, all of them will benefit
and maybe some will actually be able to fulfill their dreams. It all starts
by setting your New Year’s resolutions.