The sad reality is that the majority of young athletes, including young golfers, drop out of competitive sports by the time they reach the age of 14. A study from the National Alliance of Sports tells us that more than 70 percent of young athletes leave competitive sports by that age. Why? It has nothing to do with the game. It likely isn’t the competition, the work involved or the effort required. Instead, it is the young people’s greatest fans, their parents — and sometimes their coaches — who take the fun away and make the experience of sports too complicated for the child to enjoy.
Instead of the pure joy of playing and achieving, young golfers get bogged down by heavy expectations, the pressure to win, and other complications introduced by the very adults who are most invested in them playing the sport. This may not be you, but for the sake of organized youth sports, please read on. And if you agree with what’s written, pass this story on.
Egos Run Amok.
I’ve run a number of sessions on high performance for young golfers recently; a hot topic is always pressure and how young golfers handle it. Part of the complication is that mom and/or dad are often the biggest source of pressure. They create expectations that might be difficult to reach, and over time, that sucks the fun out of the game for their kids.
Is it really about the kids or the parents’ egos? The kids, with their $300 shoes, top-of-the-line equipment, and bag full of Pro Vs look like mini-professionals, one step from the tour. What starts out as a desire to have their kids be active and play their parent’s favorite game can sometimes shift into something else. Motives change, and often not for the better.
Do You Have a Frustration Gap?
Many parents see their child on the course or the practice tee as what they’d like their child to be, and not what their child actually is. I call this the Frustration Gap. Parents watch their kids perform and the frustration builds … and builds … and builds as the parent waits for the child to reach the performance level the parent hopes to see.
While this frustration is not much fun for the parent, it is less fun for the child, who is constantly trying to live up to the parent’s expectations. Usually, those expectations are unrealistic, and not in line with the child’s abilities or motivations. This tension is a performance crusher, and can lead a child in the wrong direction – sometimes out of the game for good.
The Mini-Van Golf Prison.
Is your vehicle a Mini-Van Golf Prison, a place your child is trappedas you express your frustration with his or her performance? While most parents have good intentions for these chats, their budding professional becomes the target for all sorts of emotions felt by the parent while watching their child and expecting more.