Posted: 1:21 pm Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Struggling to keep kids’ head in the game this summer? 

By Gracie Bonds Staples

With the popularity of the World Cup in full swing, its a good bet specialized soccer camps are skyrocketing this summer. And naturally parents want their kids to get the edge, and sports camps are being marketed to younger and younger kids who are feeling the pressure to perform and be the best.  And this can wreak havoc on a child’s state of mind.

Coach Mike Basevic, creator of No Limits Nation and author of No Limits: Mastering the Mental Edge has a long history of working with student athletes and helping them achieve success.  He says success is a state of mind. He offers these tips on how to keep kids’ mental edge in play during the summer months and give them the edge in whatever game they’re playing

  • Accentuate the Positive – Make it clear that no matter what, the experience is what counts.  Do not let them think they will be punished or seen as a disappointment if they are not the best athlete at the camp.
  • Encourage active participation – Make sure the program you select empowers its participants to get involved in every activity and act as team players. This will make it easier for kids to master the physical edge of the game while also making friends.
  • Remind your kid to have fun and play hard – A good summer program emphasizes the fundamentals and the competitive nature of the game, but it will also keep your kid’s spirits up and energy level high by reminding them of what matters most.
  • Welcome and Reward – At the end of the day, kids want to know they have a safe place to come home to, no matter how they rank as an athlete.  Always allow them the freedom to express their feelings and disappointment and reward them for following thorough and completing the summer program.  Commitment and completion are successes in their own right.
  • To find out more and  get your kids to the NO LIMITS NATION program, click here: http://nolimitsmentaledge.com/no-limits-nation
10 comments
DBOrig
DBOrig

I was an admin for a high-profile Atlanta area youth soccer club for several years. The person that left me speechless was the woman who was petulant because we didn't accept 3 year olds in the program.  "But his father played semi-pro soccer in Europe!" she proclaimed.  "Yeah, so?"  The kid was about knee-high to a gnat -- in a group of 4-going-on-5 year olds, he would have been at a distinct disadvantage. She persisted -- "He needs to get started NOW if he is going to be playing soccer in college."  I sorta stared at her, and finally quipped, "But what if he decides to go to Cordon Bleu?  I don't think they have a soccer club."  She scowled.  "Well, THAT'S not happening!" she declared.  Oh, jeez -- another parent who had every second of their child's athletic prowess mapped out for the next 20 years.  . . . 


I was always amused at the number of parents who were counting on/hoping that soccer would pay their kid's way to college for their now-9-year-old.  Do the math, folks -- soccer isn't American football, the number of scholarships are small. D3 school ok with you? They might throw you some money -- but seldom a full ride. The rabbit-fast 8 year old turns into the 12 year old who wants to try lacrosse, or the 15 year old who suddenly discovers high school theatre. Kids change -- and I think parents need to help kids explore all the opportunities the world affords without jamming them into little athletic holes early in life. They may never be a stand-out soccer player -- but as an adult, they can enjoy and appreciate soccer.  My son played from 4 to 18, never at high levels, then played some intramural in college, and now occasionally plays on an adult league, work permitting. He refereed quite a bit (good money for a young teenager), and now is an ardent fan of the MLS team where he now lives. There's a lot to be said for playing just for the joy of the the game -- in soccer, or anything else in life.

RealKat
RealKat

Whenever "Gracie Bonds Staples" replaces Theresa, we get a sales pitch for a book, a program, or something else. The information can be good, but it's still a sales pitch. I do like the comments from readers though; good information.

iRun
iRun

So, off topic, but my son plays soccer.  He's 13 and he started playing when he was 5.  He's very good.


You may think, 'Of course, he's good.  Because he started young and has 8 years experience.'


But, let me tell you...He was really bad at it at first.  And his eventual advancement into elite soccer isn't a story of hard work and perseverance.


First, he was completely uninterested.   He would be at one end of the field staring at planes in the sky while all the action was going on at the other end.  Then he'd suddenly notice and run as fast as he could to catch up.  Only, about half way there he would get distracted by how he looked running, as evidenced by his shadow, and would look at us with an expression that said, "Look at me run!  I am SO fast, aren't I?"  And by the time he got to the other end the action had moved.


That was probably from age 5 - 7.  We thought, 'Well, I guess he's not much of an athlete.  Or maybe we should try something else.'  But we decided it was good for him to play team sports, even if he wasn't much of an athlete, because the running around was good for him and so was learning to play on a team.  But we approached it with zero expectations and pressure to perform.


Somewhere around age 7 he began taking interest in playing but he wasn't very competitive.  No 'blood lust' for winning the ball.  He spent most of the time trotting up and down the field after the action but not trying to get in there.  And there's very little passing at that age.


Then in his 8th year it was like a switch was flipped in his brain.  He began caring about playing, about technique, about winning.  And he got very aggressive.  He began scoring A LOT.  He made nearly as many assists.


Now he plays elite.  He plays both center midfield and right D.  Occasionally he plays forward.  He and the kids on his team (and other teams at the same level) are amazing to watch.  Their athleticism,  grace, skill, and self- awareness are very developed/mature.  


And he's good at BMX now, too.


The reason i tell this story is to demonstrate to parents of younger kids they should not throw in the bag with sports (or music/art, etc) if your child shows little or negative acuity for an activity.  The exposure to it, in a non - pressured environment, may be it all it takes to develop some latent talents.  We forget that kids don't have fully developed neuromuscular systems which then mature at different rates between kids.  My kid was 8 before his dedevelopmt reached  the threshold for sports.  Your kid might reach the threshold at 3, or 6, or 13.  So, don't give up.  Relax, make them participate for their health and enrichment.  But don't layer expectations.  And, watch,  they'll surprise you.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

My grandchildren, 6 and 4, are trying soccer this summer and just love what they are learning! Kudos to the Atlanta Silverback facility that is doing such a great job!

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

If my kid does not get a home run at every bat, he does not get to eat that night.

Lovinglife36
Lovinglife36

Great advice...my daughter has been playing soccer for about a year now. Her interest level is the same as you described for your son. I think I will stick with it because I want her to learn sportsmanship, endurance etc.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@iRun Good encouragement, iRun.  I encouraged my children to try out whatever looked interesting.  Some stuff they stuck with, some they did not, but they had a great time, learned a lot, and developed leadership, endurance,  grace, and sportsmanship.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Rory_Bellows Rory, you laugh, but I had a five year old who was not allowed to ride his 4 wheeler for two weeks because he dropped a pop up fly.  I hate 4 wheelers but I hated the pressure on him more.


Luckily he has grown up to be a fine young man with a good job, while his dad drives a school bus.

motherjanegoose1
motherjanegoose1

Our son loved soccer. He was an awesome goalie. He was big and could block. Not much for running stamina on the field though. The coach decided to rotate others in the goalie position. He lost interest and his team finished near last place. He then switched to basketball and played throughout middle and high school, just for fun. He was tall and that helped.