Today we continue our conversation on our Core Values by looking at our final value that we want to reflect as parents which is something that many parents may shy away from, but is so essential for our children’s overall development. Today we are talking about “competition.” There are many studies done on the importance of healthy competition for our youth today, and there are also a lot of people who don’t want their child in competition, which leads to many jokes that could be told about every child getting a trophy! (Especially in youth soccer.) There are also many negative stories where typically the adults around youth sports struggle to handle the intensity of “competition” well. So let me ask you, if I say the word “competition” what comes to mind? For many it has a negative connotation to it. Somewhere along the line competition became a bad thing for our children. But the reality is it’s important not just for their sports careers but for their overall development as people because let’s face it, in life there is competition. Competition squeezes us people and can bring the best out of us, but it can also bring out the worst. We here at Keystone FC embrace competition and want our players to compete in training, in tryouts, and in game! It’s a good thing!
But the question becomes how does this apply to us parents? How do we reflect this value of competition? It’s a good question and a challenging one that we are tackling today. But before we answer that question let’s take a look at our Mission Statement and Core Values.
Keystone FC Parent Mission Statement – to develop high quality soccer parents who understand and reflect the mission and core values of our club.
Club Core Values: competition - confident - commitment - team first - positive
Parents Reflect those Values: positive - team first - commitment - confident - competition
So, let’s go back to what I said earlier about competition.
Competition squeezes so much out of us! Did that make you think at all today? Well it probably should. I want you to see why competition squeezes so much out of us. And that is because competition forces us to respond to it, one way or the other!
Let me show you an example of what I’m talking about. Let’s say that your player is a good player who has always started and got significant playing time on the team. Then one year the team adds another really good player that plays the same position and is pushing your child for playing time and that spot on the team. How does this make you feel? How does your child feel? Is this negative or is this positive? Well that depends on the response to the new competition. The competition for playing time could lead your child to new heights as a player, pushing them to work harder at home, and at training, and to give even more effort than before to keep their position on the team. This would be a very positive response to the competition…but sadly it isn’t the only possible response. Competition could also squeeze out some negatives. Instead of working harder to earn more playing time or to keep the spot many become resentful. They don’t embrace the competition and use it as fuel, but become upset and insecure due to this new threat pushing them out of their comfort zone on the team and somehow think the best way to keep the spot is not through working harder and competing but through complaining, and pushing in on the coach or even that other player…this is not the desired response to competition but sadly it is a popular one.
Do you see it? Competition is good because it forces us to respond to it, and it’s such a good and healthy thing when we embrace the competition. It can make us better and help us improve in many ways. So as parents what can we do to help in this area. Well it comes down to this, if competition squeezes us, forcing a response, then we parents need to be focused on leading our children to respond well and embrace competition! So let's talk about three things to remember as our child faces competition.
Remember your child will respond the way you do! The thing to remember as a parent supporting our child in competition is that competition is forcing them to respond…it’s also forcing a response from us parents as well. You need to understand that your child will respond the way you do. If you are super negative and start complaining about the other player, their parents, or your coach guess what your child will do? But if you embrace it, and show them the opportunity to grow in the competition, working harder, and responding well to it…guess what your child will do?
Remember to focus on and celebrate the effort and how your child is competing. There are many things we cannot control. We can’t control other players, their talent levels compared to our own…we can’t even control a lot of the abilities we have in our own arsenal…but we can always control our effort. As a parent it can be frustrating if things aren’t going your child’s way…but a great thing to remember and watch and celebrate is their personal effort and how they are responding to the competition around them. Focus on that and celebrate their effort and how hard they are competing. This will help you too!
Remember who is competing. This is very important for us parents to remember, focus on who is actually competing. There are too many of us living through our kids and competing with other parents in and around club sports. What we really need to do is remember this isn’t our competition, it’s our child’s time to compete. They must own it, and the more they own it the better. The more they own it, the more we parents can relax and the more they grow as players because they are owning their own development. As parents it’s just so important for us to remember that this isn’t our competition, it’s not a reflection on your parenting if your child starts or is successful as an athlete. What we must own is the fact that our time to play is most likely behind us, it’s our child’s time now and our job is to lead our children to respond well to this last core value, because competition is important, and can make us so much better…but it’s all about the response.
Competition does not have to be a negative thing. It shouldn't be something we run from but something we embrace! When we respond well to competition our children will too which will lead them to success on the field and off!