It’s fall already. Can you believe it? I can’t and worse I don’t want to accept it. I know that there are those who love the autumn winds, the changing colors, the cooler temperatures…yah dah yah dah yah! I’m not one of those fall lovers. Fall lovers, lovers of changing seasons, are crazy and this is one of the rare times where I’m proud to say that I’m not one of the crazy ones.
If it was up to me, there would only be one season – early summer. A season characterized by warm weather, palm trees, lots of sun, and a nearby ocean. And if you don’t think my one season is diverse enough, I’m happy to throw in an occasional sprinkling of hot days.
The Truth and Nothing But The Truth
Despite my love for tropical weather, I must confess there is a certain amount of nostalgia that I feel during this time of the year. Each year, falling leaves, colorful foliage and having to insert the down insulation in the duvet causes me to reminisce of great times gone by.
In the Midwest, the emergence of fall coincides with the youth soccer season. Most families acknowledge fall by the atmospheric and meteorological changes. Not me! I always knew fall had arrived from the presence of muddy cleats, soccer balls all over the house, misplaced uniform pieces, team scheduled practices and of course my son and my impromptu trainings.
Lessons From The Beautiful Game
Soccer – or football as it is correctly referenced by everyone else around the world – is played by millions of American kids each fall. Although my son no longer plays competitively, I am convinced now – just as I was when he first began playing soccer – that many of the lessons he learned playing “the beautiful game” would serve and guide him throughout life.
In fact, before he departed for college, I had a soccer ball designed for him. I presented him with a ball contained in an acrylic display case. My intention was for him to place the ball on his dorm room desk. My hope is that if he should ever doubt his ability, have an anxious moment or forget his purpose, seeing the ball would remind him that like the opponents who once chased him all over the pitch – ALL his goals are in sight and attainable.
Going Pro In Something Other Than Sports
The NCAA has been marketing this theme for years and it’s true. Most children including collegiate athletes will be turning pro in something other than sports. This is further evidence that youth sports should be used as a teaching tool – as an instrument – that prepares your children for life. In case you are wondering what some of those lessons might be, I have included a few below:
1. PLAY WITH YOUR HEART – Successful athletes and successful non-athletes are grounded by this principle – they love what they do. Great athletes play for the love of the game. Great athletes would play in a park for free. Great athletes play long after their skills begin to erode because they so love the game.
Children who desire to be good to great in anything would be wise to adopt this principle. Help your children discover something they love doing, something they would do for free and encourage them to turn their passion into a purpose. Great things frequently happen for those of us who commit to doing something with ALL of our heart.
2. LIVE IN THE MOMENT WITHOUT OBSESSING OVER THE MOMENT – Successful athletes and successful non-athletes alike are skilled at concentrating and compartmentalizing. Those who desire success and greatness understand that while every moment counts, each second only counts for a moment. Children who learn to concentrate and compartmentalize learn not to take themselves too seriously and thus manage to stay on track.
The Greats understand that a game, a season, a career and that life is a process with ups and downs, twists and turns. Greatness occurs for those who can concentrate on the moment without fixating on the immediate outcome – good or bad.
Great things occur when our ‘big picture’ desire to succeed matches our ability to learn from the moment without being paralyzed by the moment. Greatness happens when we understand that obsessing over a moment keeps us from moving from this moment to the next moment to the next play to the next day.
3. INSPIRE OTHERS – Successful athletes and successful non-athletes inspire us. It’s no secret why the world is captivated by the talents of athletes like Messi, Serena, Kobe, Danica, LeBron, Mia, Ronaldo, Venus and Peyton. These athletes lift our spirits and encourage our children to dream of athletic greatness.
Beyond being inspirational, the Greats provide teachable moments for our children. Watching, studying and mirroring successful athletes and successful non-athletes gives us a chance to talk to our children about the importance of commitment, preparation, labor, focus and excellence.
Every child dreams of being the best at something so that like today’s icons they might inspire others. Make sure that you aren’t the reason your child misses out on their opportunity to be someone’s role model.
4. LET YOUR DADDY HANDLE THE CRITICS – I almost forgot a most important lesson, I learned as a father of a student-athlete. Remind your child to let you handle the critics. No matter how respectful, how skilled, how determined or how much your child labors there will be detractors and critics.
Naysayers, haters and doubters have always existed and I imagine that they aren’t going away anytime soon. The role of a parent regardless of the chosen vocation or talent of your child is to provide a buffer from destructive criticism, a shield from cynicism and an umbrella for the rainy days. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – don’t forget to teach your child how to block out the clutter.
This fall, remember to use the field, the court, the mat, the course or wherever your children play as an additional classroom – a real-life laboratory. Moreover, it doesn’t matter whether your children play soccer or some other youth sports, make sure that you savor the moments because they will be gone much too soon.
Take it from me. Fall is here and this year all I’m left with are lousy early sunsets, impending inclement weather and dreary grey skies. Ugh, I hate fall!
What youth sports will your child play this fall? What lessons has your child learned from playing youth sports?