FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
I was talking to a player recently about various things, and we started to talk about volleyball and she made the comment that volleyball has become of job with the goal of getting a scholarship, and she really did not enjoy playing. Keep in mind this is a 15 year old kid and she feels like she has a job. The beauty of being a 15 year is you don’t have job. How many times have you been sitting at your desk at work and thought how nice it would be to be that young again? When there were no worries about a mortgage, bills, or your job.
One thing many of you don’t know about me is when I was young I was very good at motocross. When I was 16 I was two races from turning pro in Colorado before I was badly injured and forced to retire. During that time I would wake up at 5 am two to three days a week to go practice for an hour and a half before school. I did it because I wanted to be the best, but most importantly I did it because I loved it. I would have rode everyday if I could have. I simply couldn’t get enough. I look back on that time with joy because I was able to do what I loved, it wasn’t a job. Make no mistake I worked my butt off, and it paid off because at the time I was one of the best riders in the state, but I enjoyed every second of it.
I bring this up because I see kids that are 15 years old that don’t play volleyball because the love it. They play because they have to get a scholarship, make varsity, make the national team, or whatever other reason. I want the best for my kids, and I want them to learn the value of hard work. These are great lessons for any young adult to learn and these lessons will serve them well in life. However, I want every parent to take the time and ask their kids if they enjoy playing the game. If they do then great there are no worries, but if there is hesitation in the answer or if the answer is a flat out NO then it is time to step back and figure out why. Are they placing too much pressure on themselves, is there too much pressure from the parents, or have they just moved on to another passion. Whatever the answer, we as parents must find the root cause and address it.
There is a fine line between giving your kid every opportunity to succeed, and pushing them too much. Private lessons, strength programs, and open gyms are great and can help any athlete improve, but they can also feel like a job if they athlete doesn’t love playing the game anymore. So while we as parents might feel like we are helping, in reality we might be pushing them to resent an activity they once enjoyed and loved. No parents are perfect, and we all have the best intention when it comes to our kids we just need to make sure those intentions are in line with what our kids want to accomplish. Take time to sit down with your kids and really understand why they play. Every once in a while every athlete needs a kick in the butt, but if those are happening regularly it is time to step back and ask why.