Advice from One Sports Mom to Another…Know When to Stop Pushing

I’ll be the first to admit that I pushed my son (name withheld to protect the innocent) too hard to play sports. I’m the Mom you didn’t want to sit next to in the stands. I picked apart everything the coaches did during a game and reviewed in the car with my son after each game. I was jealous when other players scored more points or got more game time.

I was a hot Sports Mom mess!

My son, in middle school, had promising basketball talent, a big, tall kid that could move like a guard and shot above 50% from most anywhere on the court. I pushed him hard during the off seasons to improve his skills and he played year round basketball. I pushed him to play up on teams, even if he wasn’t ready. I pushed him to have private coaches and intense training sessions. I pushed him into doing anything I read on getting your child into NCAA D1 basketball.

I was having dreams of him thanking me on national television after scoring the winning basket at the NCAA Championships for all the sacrificing I did to get him there. I didn’t bother to ask what he wanted out of sports. I just assumed my passion was his passion. As I discovered, what he wanted was way different from what I wanted for him.

In his freshmen year, I noticed that he didn’t quite exhibit as much joy in playing as he had. I chalked it up to more pressure at the next level. By his sophomore year, I really noticed a change. He wasn’t excited anymore to play in games and was showing signs of dreading going to practice. He even talked about quitting. I once again ignored the signs and kept pushing him. I blamed his coaches, teammates, anything other than admitting that maybe he didn’t want to play beyond high school.

During his senior year, I finally admitted to myself that he didn't want to play college basketball. After this realization, that year turned into my most enjoyable season. I quit dissecting his play and just enjoyed watching the games. I became his biggest fan and cheered as loud as I could for him and his team mates.

He walked off the court after the buzzer in his final game and hasn’t looked back. He was offered college scholarships and turned them down and I was ok with that. He is now a happy, thriving college student. If he plays basketball, it’s because he wants to, not because he has to.

So my advice to other sports Mom’s? Let your child set the pace when playing sports. Kids play for a lot of different reasons; being part of a team, physical activity, competitiveness, the challenge. Watch and listen to what you child isn’t saying. All kids want to make you happy and will say things to insure that, but what they don’t say is much louder. Push because it’s what they want, not because it’s what you want.

Do I miss watching him play, of course I do. I miss everything about it. But I’ve discovered it’s more important that he’s happy and loves what he’s doing.

I’m still my kid’s biggest fan.

A Recovering Crazy Sports Mom

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