This article is from Liberty Mutual - Responsible Sports web site. You can read this article and more by going to www.responsiblesports.com
Responsible Sport Parents care about the scoreboard, but they care even more deeply about instilling a Mastery Approach in their children, which will help them win both on and off the field and throughout their lives.
As expert research has repeatedly proven, focusing solely on the scoreboard increases players' anxiety, because they can’t control the outcome on the scoreboard.
Ultimately, that anxiety undercuts self-confidence, which affects performance and takes the joy out of sports. Anxious athletes spend their mental and emotional energy worrying about losing instead of focusing on the current play and, of course, focusing on the current play is necessary for mastery and winning.
To keep your kids encouraged and engaged in their sports so they can learn life lessons, help them focus on what they can control. Control is critical to confidence!
There are three key elements to a Mastery Approach and you can remember them with the handy acronym ELM - Effort, Learning and Mistakes. Responsible Sport Parents encourage their kids to “climb the ELM Tree of Mastery” by giving maximum Effort, committing to constantly Learning to continue to improve, and remembering that Mistakes are OK, because mistakes help us learn.
The Elements of ELM
If you’d like to introduce ELM to your child, start with Effort. Let them know:
In sports, as in many other areas of life, people can take satisfaction from giving maximum effort. Regardless of outcome on the scoreboard (or, for that matter, your children’s report cards) if your kids know they gave it their best, they likely can endure disappointment and re-double their efforts.
One way to persuade your children to keep making maximum effort is to reward them for effort, even when they do not succeed. “I know it did not turn out exactly as you hoped, Johnny, but I’m so proud of your effort I’m making your favorite dessert.” Gradually, they will realize that effort is its own reward, a value they will carry with them toward success in other aspects of life.
More on Learning
Our kids can learn from success or failure. In fact, sometimes we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. Reminding your kids that they are not failing so much as they are learning will keep them encouraged.
In all other facets of their lives, your children will have to try new things. Sometimes they will succeed, other times not. The better you equip them to learn from success and failure, the more able they will be to adapt, learn, and improve through whatever life throws at them.
More on Mistakes
Mistakes often result from pushing the envelope, taking chances, stretching limits, growing and learning. Parents who overreact to mistakes cause their children stress and make them nervous about mistakes that they end up making even more or become so intent on avoiding mistakes that they play too tentatively.
Consider establishing a Mistake Ritual, a physical motion you and your children use as a signal to move beyond the mistake and focus on the next play. If your child makes a mistake and looks to you in the stands, use the Mistake Ritual. Some of the best are the “flush" (making a fist, raising it, and then bringing it down in a flushing motion), "no sweat" (signified by flicking sweat off the brow), or "brushing it off" (shown by pretending to dust off the uniform ).
Commitment to A Mastery ApproachUsing all three elements of ELM, Responsible Sport Parents help their children go for greatness. Emphasizing Effort and Learning are terrific starts. The finishing touch is to let them know Mistakes are OK, especially if they Learn from their Mistakes and continue giving full Effort.
Parent-Coach Conversations during a youth sports season, your children will spend more time with their coaches than with any other adults, except you, their parents. On some days, coaches’ time with your kids will even exceed your own. It’s important that you as a Responsible Sport Parent have a completely open, honest, trusting relationship with your children’s coaches. Here are a few ways to help bring about a quality parent-coach partnership.
Help your children understand that the best way for them to succeed as individuals and to contribute to team success is to cooperate with the coaches, pay careful attention and try their hardest at every practice and game. If your children make the coaches’ lives easier, you probably will enhance your own relationships with the coaches.
Stay Mindful of the Coaches’ Commitment.Your children’s coaches have made a commitment that involves many hours of preparation beyond the time spent at practices and games. Quite likely in youth sports they are volunteers. Almost all are well-meaning.
It will be helpful to use those facts as a prism through which you view any issues that have you considering a corrective conversation with the coaches. Finally, if you do feel the need to approach coaches about an issue, try to imagine yourself in their place – as a volunteer – and that can help keep your communication with them respectful.
Make Early, Positive Contact with the Coach. As soon as you know who will coach your children, contact those coaches to introduce yourself and offer any assistance you may provide. This outreach may be the single most important thing you do in establishing a true partnership, where you proactively shape a positive experience for your child and lay the foundation for respectful, productive conversations with coaches should a conflict arise later.
You may want to offer yourself as assistant coach if that is customary in the organizations where your children compete. At the same time, be prepared to accept “no” for an answer; some coaches already have assistants selected. Other roles for which you might volunteer include “team parent” (responsible for such things as coordinating carpools or snack assignments) or maintaining a team webpage and online scheduling and communications tools.
Fill the Coach’s Emotional Tank. Too often, coaches hear only from parents who have complaints. Filling the coaches’ Emotional Tanks with specific, truthful praise positively reinforces them to continue doing the things you see as benefiting the youth athletes.
Key to this communication is “specific and truthful.” It’s common enough for parents and coaches to mill around after a game, and instead of the simple, “Great game, coach,” it can do a world of good for the coach, players and other parents to hear things like, “Coach, we were getting upset about some of the official’s calls, but when we saw how well you kept your composure, it helped us calm down, too.”
Don’t Put the Player in the Middle. You wouldn’t complain to your children about how poorly their math teacher explains fractions, so hopefully you would avoid sharing your disapproval of a coach with your children. Doing so may force the child to take sides, and not necessarily your side!
If your child has an issue with the coach and can maturely articulate it, encourage your child to approach the coach and at the very least learn some life lessons in self-advocacy with an authority figure. Otherwise, if you disapprove of how the coach handles a situation, seek a private meeting to discuss the matter.
Ideally, such conversations would focus on big-picture concerns around your child’s ability to have an overall positive experience with the team. Playing time issues sometimes rise to that level, but in-game strategies and tactics rarely do.
If you have some expertise in the sport and think you can help your child’s coach, that’s the sort of thing you might mention in the “make-early-positive-contact” phase. But if the coach does not seem open to those sorts of suggestions, it’s best to respect that, because big-picture concerns about your child taking life lessons from sports do not hinge on the coach accepting your tactical advice.
Let Coaches Coach. It can confuse players to hear someone other than the coach yelling out instructions. Also, your instructions may counter the coaches’ strategy and tactics, undermining team performance.
Fill Your Child’s Emotional Tank.Competitive sports can be stressful to players. The last thing they need is your critiquing their performance…on top of what the coach may deliver and what they already are telling themselves. Let your children know you love and support them regardless of their performance.
Contribute to a Positive Environment. Fill all the players’ Emotional Tanks when you see them doing something well. Honor the Game as a spectator, respecting ROOTS (Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates and Self), and encourage others around you to Honor the Game.
We know this advice is not always easy to implement. There will be the occasional disagreeable official’s call or wishes for more playing time for your child. But drawing from these ideas can help you keep your child’s youth sports experience in perspective. In turn, that will help you maintain a positive parent-coach partnership, and that will help the Responsible Coaches in your children’s lives serve their greatest purpose.
From the Blog of International Judge Bob Pian – a great how-to of preparing for your first tournament:
Heading to the first “real” tourney: Deciding to take part in that first tournament is often more of an accident than by design. Someone mentions that an event might be fun or worthwhile and suggest giving it a try. Now what? A book could be written about tournament preparation and competition. All events are different, but following are some steps you can take to help you feel more prepared.
Ask the Question: Am I ready? If you don’t need to go behind the target to look for your arrows after most every end and can score arrows on a target face, write the values and add arrow values, you are ready to try competition.
Registration and membership: The amount of tournament advertising and information varies. Most events have registration forms that can be downloaded and printed. When in doubt, contact the tournament host. Most tournament organizers will be delighted to hear of an archer that is taking part in their first event and are more than willing to provide information. Tournaments often neglect to offer “guest” or “novice” categories. Ask! Most tournaments are eager to fit you in where they can.
Membership can affect who is eligible to take part. Levels of tournaments include, club, local, state, regional, national, team trials and international. Where there is no specific membership requirement information, contact the tournament organizers and inquire.
Dress code and equipment: Showing up ready to compete requires the archer to be in proper dress and have equipment that is compliant with the rules. Events have different dress code requirement just as there are different membership requirements. Compliance is easy: for complete information on the USA Archery dress code, click here.
Equipment rules can be a concern for those new to FITA style archery. If at all possible ask a judge or an experienced target archer to explain the equipment rules before the day of your competition. For compound archers, common compliance issues are bows in excess of 60 pounds, multiple aiming points, a battery lighted sight pin, or arrows that are over 9.3mm (2315s). Recurve bows rarely have issues except when an archer has left a training aid on the bow such as a sight level or a sight tube over 2cm in length. For complete rules and regulations, click here.
Schedules: Schedules indicate the starting time. Experienced archers arrive on site early to claim seating space, review posted information, set up their equipment, hang their target face, stretch, and get situated before the day’s events begin. Think of the remainder of the schedule as a general concept versus something that is fixed. Check daily for schedule updates.
Think of the tournament as starting with check-in, equipment inspection and official practice. Official practice is the time for archers to become familiar with the range and relax a bit before the first scoring arrow. It is unsettling to not have time to practice because of a delay. It is disappointing to have prepared and spent money only to perform poorly because of rushing caused by corner cutting.
Tournament delays happen for a variety of reasons including inclement weather, power failures and protest deliberations. For a local tournament, plan to arrive at least 45 minutes to an hour ahead of your scheduled shooting time. If you’re traveling out of town, plan to arrive the day before and depart the day after if at all possible.
Travel: Getting to and from the event is typically an individual effort. Plan your trip just as you would any other important event. Events can take place in obscure places including those that have no address. Give yourself even more time to find your way. Many tournament hosts help guide archers to the venue by displaying a FITA target face. One of the primary roles of a friend, family member or parent is to “get lunch”. Many bring a cooler with beverages and snacks and a sandwich.
Arrival: There are several things to do when you arrive. Get a lay of the land. Find out where and when check-in and equipment inspection will be. If competing in an outdoor tournament, you’ll find that many are interested to learn their target assignment in order to practice on their target. At an indoor competition, you’ll want to secure a seat and a spot for your bow, and get a sense of the lighting on your target. Friends and family are encouraged to volunteer with set up and take down and during the tourney. Becoming a “friend of the tournament” can be very beneficial; being around the folks that are running the event can provide some insight on what to expect.
Competition: Typically, the process of shooting and scoring is easy to follow. There is usually time to have questions answered during practice. The most common interaction with an official is to ask for an arrow call when the target group does not agree.
Archers, including those in youth divisions, should be prepared to call arrow values and mark scorecards legibly. Finally, archers should be able to add and check the addition of others. The integrity of the tournament depends on the accuracy of the scorecards. The efficiency of the tournament depends on the archers’ ability to score and total quickly.
End of the competition day: Scorecards should only be turned in after archers check and double check the math, and ensure that all required information is properly recorded. Scorecards are required to be signed by the archer and others in the scoring group including the score recorder. Do not leave the group until all off the cards in the group are fully checked and signed. Scorecards must be turned in on time to be a part of the results. Note that in order for your score to set a new record, your scorecard must be signed by a judge.
The best way to learn the tournament process is to dive in and take part!