Advice to a parent, from a player pt. 1

You want the best for your child, all parents do. You want them to have fun, grow as a player and person, learn the game, win, and possibly continue playing at a higher level. You want your child to have better opportunities than you did, and at times you may even want these things for your child more than they want it for themselves. As you try to harness your love and passion for your child’s life, you also realize you don't want to become that parent. To help you find the balance of wanting to be involved and trusting the process here are some reflections from my athletic journey, along with insights from my Mom and Dad.

The most important. First are foremost, playing football or any other sport, needs to be a fun experience. The last thing you want to do as a parent is take the joy out the game. Encourage them to excel, celebrate with them when they do but there’s no pressure if they don't. You want your child to revere the experience not resent it. Many professional athletes clamor for the days when they're sport was more fun and didn't feel like a job. Don’t be in any kind of rush to make their amature sports feel like a job. Athletes like Brett Favre, Antonio Brown, Usain Bolt and soccer legend Ronaldinho always played with a childlike enthusiasm. Even in the biggest of moments they are able to keep a perspective that reminds them of the feelings they had when they first decided to lace up their cleats. So cheer, laugh, celebrate and don’t lose sight of why we're here!

Don't undermine your child’s coach. When I was little I used to always ask my Dad “When I grow up and play for Florida State will you retire from the NFL and be my coach? He always used to reply with something along the lines of “Oh, by that time I’ll just want to sit back and enjoy watching you play”. My Dad did end up retiring before my senior year of high school and I believe he experienced great joy watching our games, tailgating with the other parents, and following our journey during that season. More importantly, he knew the impact every coach has on the lives of his players and he always wanted to be sure I had that experience. Sports teach athletes lessons about life. Often, young players are not able to understand these lessons until down the road. Trust your child's coach, and don't undermine their process. Instead of confronting the coach when your child is upset, sit down with your son or daughter and try to understand what lesson can be learned from this experience. I remember on one of my Plant teams we had a standout player grow frustrated and threaten to quit the team. Our coach let him walk right out of the door. As players, we felt a panic because we knew we needed him to reach out goals. In all of his wisdom, our coach knew that player would be back, but he wanted us to see a bigger picture. By allowing him to “quit” our coach showed us that selfishness will never be rewarded, that nobody’s ego is more important than the team, and that during a disagreement you must learn how to voice your opinions as well as listen to others and not just storm off. As cooler heads prevailed, that player rejoined the team and years later I understand what Coach wanted to teach us that day. What you learn from playing on a team is far greater than starts, stats or wins, although we did also win state that year!