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The Case For Investing In Sports Coaching

May 17th, 2009 · 1 Comment


Sport is a ridiculously big deal for most Australian boys. For those who care, their self-esteem seems to be wrapped around an ability to score a goal (soccer) or hit a boundary (cricket).

My boys have always loved sport but were not born with the natural ability to be sport stars. When they were younger it didn’t matter as much. As long as they were part of a team on the field each week, chasing a ball of some description, they were happy. But as soon as they became aware of ‘which team’ they were in, the fun turned to self-criticism (and mum-criticism).

“Why do I suck at sport?” they would ask. “Is it because you did?”

There is a theory doing the rounds that children gain their sorting prowess from their mothers. I don’t know who started it and I don’t know if it’s true. But in our case, the reality does seem to support the theory. I was hopeless at sport. But unlike my sons, I didn’t care. Sport isn’t nearly as important to most girls (relative to other interests) – at least it certainly wasn’t when I was a teenager 30 years ago.

I assumed that over time, sport would become less important to my boys too. But I was wrong. It’s become more important to them.

My teenage son has a few friends who are at the top of their respective school sport. It’s inevitable that those boys will gain leadership positions in those sports when they reach Year 11 next year.

Many of them were treated to individual coaching in their sport from a young age. As their parents would collect them from school to rush them to a private sports lesson, I would often wonder if the extra coaching was a good thing for the child. Six years later, I know the answer: absolutely yes.

If I have one regret as a parent, it’s that I too didn’t organise individual sports coaching for my sons. It could have made an important difference to how my son sees himself and how he is defined by his peer group.

Teenage boys categorise themselves by their sporting ability: “That’s John, he’s a really great tennis player. James is the best cricketer”. Never mind that those boys are also good at mathematics or science.

Last week as my 15-year-old son and I were leaving a University of NSW HSC subjects selection evening, I asked my son what he thinks he needs to work hard at for the next two years. His answer: “cricket”.

Tags: Self-esteem · Sport

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Dino // Dec 30, 2012 at 12:34 am

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