What could your child have in common with an NFL Quarterback?
By janis on Sep 2, 2013

tj for coachupIn the NFL pre-season, we’ve seen many quarterbacks battling for positions on their teams and we’ve watched QBs who started last year losing their spot to a new player.  Many of them will spend a good bit of the season on the bench.

No athlete enjoys getting benched. My son was benched in basketball. My daughter was benched in volleyball. My other daughter was benched in softball. It happens to every athlete sooner or later. No matter what reason the coach gives–if he even gives one–getting benched is hugely disappointing to most athletes and spirit-crushing to others.

As a parent, how can you best help your child deal with this let-down?

Acknowledge their disappointment. Getting put on the bench may be a very big deal to your child–don’t diminish that. Your son or daughter is embarrassed, maybe even humiliated. Every athlete is different, but we found with our three kids that it was best to not say anything until the sting had worn off. And then, we expressed sorrow for their disappointment, love for them, and pride in their efforts.

Pinpoint the problem. Once your athlete is ready to talk, help him troubleshoot the situation. Does he know why he was pulled? Many times he does, but just doesn’t want to admit it. If he honestly doesn’t understand, it’s okay for him to calmly ask the coach after the game.What can your child do to change the situation? Once your child figures out why he was pulled, the next question to ask him is, what can do you do to keep it from happening again? If it’s a quirky coach, there may not be a whole lot you can do. My son had a basketball coach that randomly pulled kids out of the game, for no apparent reason. This frustrated parents and players. But hopefully, your child has a coach that gives a helpful answer. Armed with that info, your athlete can do the extra work that may be required for improvement.Put up or shut up. In other words, “If you’re not willing to do the work to change your situation, then don’t complain.” If your child knows what he needs to do and doesn’t, then he should be ready to accept the consequences of his choice.

Be willing to do the drills. If your child knows how he need to improve and is willing to put in extra work, then do all you can to help him. Run with him, shoot baskets with him, throw the football with him. Help him find drills to improve his skills and then go outside and practice with him. My 17-year-old wants to improve her foot speed for volleyball, so several times a week I go outside with her and blow the whistle and count as she runs through her drill.

Sometimes I wonder if watching our athletes get benched is harder on them or us. It’s painful seeing our kids suffer the frustration. We want to make everything better. But we can’t. However, we can help them learn to cope with the disappointment–yet another life lesson that sports teaches.

Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog, http://jbmthinks.com. She’s been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. You can also follow her on facebook and twitter.