I’ll just come right out and say it: I didn’t understand why so many parents spent their week nights and weekends shuttling kids to various sports. I often wondered why these tired-looking people chose to rush from one sporting event (after a day of working within or outside of the home) to the next when they could spend their time unwinding. I thought they were crazy and gluttons for punishment.
But now I get it.
My son started playing recreational league soccer when he was four years old. The commitment didn’t entail much–just one practice during the week for six to eight weeks. They’d play maybe eight games a season. The fields were only a 12-minute drive away, so this wasn’t a big deal.
But then, my son developed a passion for the sport. Instead of spacing out on the field or running away from the ball, he started to pay attention and express an interest in honing his skills. He practiced on his own at home. His hard work paid off when he was asked to become part of a soccer club and play select. There’s stiffer competition now. As a result, the number of weekly practices increased. Since the coaches demand more effort from the kids, the practices are more intensive. This year he’s played a fall season, a winter (indoor) season and now we’re in the middle of the spring season. This equates to more time spent in a car as the game fields are a 45-minute drive from where we live and one of the practice fields is about a 25-minute drive from where we live. This option also means more money spent. There’s club fees and season fees. Those snazzy uniforms cost more too. And since we play at least one tournament each season, there are tournament fees to boot.
So why do parents do this? Why do they make the time/money/energy sacrifice? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, it’s very rewarding to watch my child play with so much heart. This experience has been profoundly positive for him. He’s learned some powerful lessons:
Follow Your Bliss
My son is pursuing his passion. When you love what you do, you want to do your best. You don’t mind if you’re sacrificing free time or sleep. He often can be found practicing his moves in the back yard or running to increase his endurance. Pursuing what you love keeps you motivated and hopeful.
Confidence is Key
Being “selected” in a sport has given him a confidence he lacked. When he starts to feel overwhelmed or beats himself up over a mistake, we talk about where he started in this journey and what he’s now capable of. If he sets his mind, he can tackle or master almost anything.
There’s no “I” in Teamwork
He understands that he is part of a team. He is learning about commitment and the responsibility. He knows that the other kids are counting on him to play his best. In turn, he has a right to expect that of teammates. If a teammate had some great plays, he’ll congratulate them. If one has a bad game, he offers support and encouragement.
Keep Pushing Yourself
He is learning that patience, practice and persistence are monumental in mastering any skill, be it reading, playing an instrument or memorizing math facts. He’s seen through soccer that extra work pays off. The coach notices the improvement as do your team members and even the parents of his team.
These lessons aren’t simply related to sports. I know tons of parents who shuttle their kids to music, dance, art, or other events. In short, I think kids who pursue their passion and develop their talents learn so many life lessons too.
What has your child learned from their extracurriculars?