The Most Important Influence in Your Child’s Athletic Career

It was during my 12 year old majors division championship game in all-stars where I met my first 81mph fastball from 46 feet away… and grew my first chest hair. Now, whether it was actually puberty or Jake’s extraordinary talent that caused it, I’ll never know. But I do know for sure that Jake seemed to have “destined for greatness” written across his chest in bold letters.

Recognizing Jake’s talent early on, his dad, a single father who like any good father wanted nothing more than to see his son get the most out of his talent and play the game as long as possible had a game plan to do just that.
Baseball activities 6 days a week with private coaches while accepting every offer for him to travel the country and globe playing on elite teams where Jake would gain as much exposure and experience possible.

Now, although I don’t have kids yet, if I’m fortunate enough to have a son or daughter someday with that kind of talent and upside I too might be tempted to follow this father’s example. After all, his motivation was to see his son excel and perhaps have the career he never had.

You might already be in a similar boat as this father where you desire to give your young athlete every chance to succeed and are willing to spare no expense at the chance they make good on their talent. But, there’s more…
I’d love to tell you that Jake went on to play four years of varsity ball, 3 years at a division 1 powerhouse before getting drafted after an explosive junior year in the top 5 rounds – but I can’t.

What I can tell you is that he played 1 game with me in the middle of our freshman season on JV after finally earning a 2.0 GPA. In his only high school baseball appearance he went 4 for 4 peppering the baseball to all fields with power and doing it with grace and ease.

What happened next might surprise you. After that game he decided to hang up his cleats for good.
Now, I don’t know all the details of his situation, but I do know from personally asking him why he was wasting his talent he simply said, “It’s not fun anymore.” How could I argue?

You see, by the time Jake was 14 years old he’d played more games, thrown more pitches, and competed in more foreign countries than most ballplayers do in an entire career.

He’d lost his love for the game. He’d actually lost it much earlier but to please his father who’d spent a fortune on his development he stuck it out as long as he could.

I won’t get into the lifestyle he chose directly before and after that 1 magical game of greatness but you can use your imagination as to what kind of pressure this 14 year old phenom might have had to deal with from dad, scout teams, college coaches, pro scouts, private coaches…and the list goes on.

While everyone was focused on his bright future, no one but a few not so great influences who didn’t care about his baseball career actually offered Jake a chance to be a kid.
I share this story with you not because it’s rare but because it’s sadly all too common. Maybe not that level of talent but the outcome of athlete burnout due to parents thinking they are doing the best thing possible to help their child succeed.

I’ll again mention that although I might not have kids yet, I’d be tempted to follow the exact route Jake’s dad took if it was apparent my child seemed “destined for greatness.”

And maybe you would too. Or maybe you already are…

This true story is not meant to bash Jake’s dad or your sport parenting. Instead, it’s a cautionary tale and opportunity to help you understand the kind of impact (for good or bad) you can and do make in your young athlete’s sport career.

I have no suggestions for what the right or wrong path is for your young athlete – however, I do encourage you (if you believe you have more than a .01% influence on the trajectory of their athletic career) to ask yourself, “Am I doing all I can to make sure I’m the best sport parent I can be?”

There are plenty of resources out there and to help you get the condensed version (albeit non-exhaustive) I’ve taken knowledge from research and my own experience helping and guiding hundreds of sport parents over the last 5 years to provide a short video and PDF to help you continue to develop into the informed sport parent your young athlete needs you to be whether they know it or not. On my homepage you can download a FREE VIDEO and downloadable PDF to check it out.

Remember, it’s your child’s career and at the end of the day they get to decide if it’s what they want to pursue or not.

Understanding the keys to being your best for them will give them every chance to succeed.

Dedicated to your thought life,
Ray III