On the back of Kanga Cup and my observations of different teams and cultures, I wanted to share with you an article that is at the heart of North Sydney United’s philosophy. It’s an interesting read and raises some questions about a whole heap of issues we deal with in modern society.
Ego begins at home
Large amounts of money spent on swanky football kit and boots, hair products to make them look like mini professionals and lavish praise being heaped upon them by parents regardless of their performance. Are we damaging our children by reducing their resilience and will it affect their long-term development if we constantly fuel their ego?
The big question is “Is it the child’s ego” or “is it the parent’s ego?”
What started off as just trying to get our children involved in some physical activity has morphed into something completely different, the moment they show a modicum of ability parents are certain their child will become the next great star.
This is dangerous, even more so when their progress is documented on social media for all to see. What happens at the point where they fail? At some point, they will – it”s part of growing and learning.
Don’t forget, it’s meant to be fun…
In the past, there was not as much organised sport. Parents used to drop children off and leave them in the care of coaches and go and do something for themselves. A lot of the sport was unwatched, players and referees were not shouted at and the whole experience was about fun and playing with your mates.
How many of us, as families, now have our young people at the centre of the universe based around achieving something (however minor) in a chosen sport?
No budding young sportsperson or indeed an adult elite performer should ever be satisfied with what they are achieving, once a challenge is completed they should be looking at the next step to improve further. A great current example of this in a solitary sport is that of Andy Murray who has worked tirelessly in the pursuit of excellence over many years and deservedly reached the top of the world tennis rankings. Once he became the best British player, he did not rest on his laurels, stop working hard and say, “look at me I have made It”.
Instead, he set his next goal: to conquer the world rankings.
Encouraging a growth mindset
As parents, our attitude and behaviour to creating this type of sportsperson is crucial if we want to see our children succeed not just in sport but also in life. It is about us creating a culture that allows a growth mindset in our children not just for sport but for everything they participate in.
As parents, we need to foster the right environment. Constantly telling our child that they are brilliant encourages a fixed mind-set. A result of this can be that, when the challenges become tougher and they start to “fail” they no longer feel brilliant. Consequently, without having had the ability to develop the coping mechanisms to deal with what they perceive as “failure”, there’s a risk they will give up and walk away from their sport.
However, if we can praise effort and encourage hard work, our children can take this on board and learn from challenges which in turn will increase their ability, improve their resilience and help them achieve in the long term as opposed to the short term.
We need to offer our children the challenges, we also need to acknowledge that mistakes are part and parcel of learning and we should see ourselves that mistakes are opportunities to learn and our children need to see it that way as well.
If we make a big deal of mistakes then our children will never attempt the same thing again, as a result there is no way they can continue to grow and improve as they will be limiting their capabilities.
Likewise, if we do nothing but fuel their ego at a young age their chances of long term success remain a long way from their reach.
Head Coach NSU
Joe Liddle Professional Coaching