There’s an excitement that builds as the season approaches that reminds me of big holidays, like Christmas. We start daydreaming about it, hoping it will come faster and anticipating being in the middle of it. It’s not just a date on the calendar, it’s bigger. It’s something you can feel. There are purchases to make, plans to put together, people to coordinate with, schedule changes, and the pressure to make it the best. We prepare for our athletic season much the same way. Some of it is fun, some of it..not so much.
As we get closer to the main event, the pressure builds. The reasons we love it can start to feel a little forced, too important, and less fulfilling because we are so focused on creating it to the magical vision in our heads. We become so micro-focused on details that the greater purpose and joy becomes lost. Have you ever spent months preparing for guests coming for the holidays or a family vacation that’s been so over planned for the perfect time, that you realized at the end of it all, you didn’t just enjoy the process? That you kind of, missed it while you’re head was somewhere else? Or something went off plan – someone got sick or injured or didn’t show up, and suddenly your vision is shattered and you can’t enjoy it the way you should. Then at the end, there’s a pile of credit card bills because we got caught up in it all. Ever feel like that at the end of the season?
We do this in sports all the time. We train for tryouts, we buy our gear, worry about the apparel (cost, size, label, how much to get..), about our travel teams, coaches, about playing time, about who is getting recruited, about what is happening every second of every game, about refs decisions, fields, weather, about how we look as players, about how we look as parents because of our kids performance, about being accepted, understood, and believed in, about our time or lack of time, about stats, scoreboards, awards, newspaper articles, about how we show or don’t show the emotional rollercoaster that is youth and teen sports.
But years down the road, all of that worry and stress was just details, They got in the way of our clarity, potential, and our ability to experience the full enjoyment of one of the best times in our lives as parents. It’s one of our kids’ best opportunities to develop as a person, teammate, athlete, friend, leader, servant, and adversity victor. We, parents and players alike, are getting hung up on details equivalent to the holiday choosing of wrapping paper, what dessert to make, what time to serve dinner, who will sit with who at the table, how to control crazy uncle Billy, and whether to ship via fedex or UPS. Are they really gonna go pro or get a free ride to college? Do they need to decide that NOW when they are still buying youth sizes?
Celebrate your next sport season like the best holiday you ever had. Keep a clear focus on the reason for playing. On the reason your kids are playing. On the reason you are paying for it and sacrificing so much time and energy to it. Prepare for what is important, ensure that everyone is fed, rested, and loved and then just sit back and enjoy the company around you and your sports family. They will be with you in the rain, the snow, the heat, the hangry, the struggles, the celebrations, the bleacher herniated back pains; and then they will get in to a similarly gear stench filled car to go home.
Laugh in the bleachers together like you’re home on your couch enjoying a holiday bonding moment. Share in the frustrations you all face at one time or another with a pat on the back, a nod, an encouraging word – whether it’s an injury, playing time, field mistakes, refs call on your kid – it happens to us all, we’ve BTDT! At the end of your child’s sports journey, and truly none of us can anticipate when that last game will be without super powers, what was the reason for it all? Let go and love the process. J