On our latest Let’s Talk podcast, Episode 7: Making a Difference in Youth Sports, Ali Starr of Tashi Deley joined Amanda and Karlene to talk about the modern youth sports landscape and transforming youth sports for the better.
Youth sports today can look very different from when we were young. With new technology, the commercialization of sports, and early specialization, parents and kids face many challenges in navigating the modern sports landscape.
Playing sports comes with lots of benefits for kids. Still, there are also common issues: pressure to win at all costs, economic barriers to participation, parent over-involvement, and referee shortages.
How can parents navigate these issues and focus on those benefits and positives? How do we keep our kids active and having fun? And is anyone playing casual or pick-up games anymore?
Here are some resources to help!
Deeper Connection Questions – After Games
Ali Starr shared these back pocket questions to ask when desiring to connect deeper with your kids with sports.
- What did you enjoy about practice/game today?
- How did you think the game went?
- What is one/or more thing(s) you are proud of individually and from a team perspective?
- What is one thing you desire to focus more on tomorrow?
- What would growth from this experience look like?
- I know it is easy to lead with feelings, honey. I also know this sport matters greatly to you; otherwise, you wouldn’t be as passionate as you are about what just happened. I don’t want to dismiss your feelings, they are important, but feelings are not facts. So what are the facts we know to be true for (both parties), and then we can continue to go from there…
- Why do you play ______ sport? What do you love about it? What do you not enjoy about it?
- What does being a good teammate look and sound like in your mind?
- What does being coachable look and sound like in your mind?
- What does success look like this year? (hint- if their answer is something they cannot control, then encourage them to find a definition of success that they actually have control over. Otherwise, this ‘desire’ may be unrealistic and contingent upon many other factors (including coaches and teammates, which they have no control over). This unrealistic idea of success usually leads to feelings of failure, disappointment, guilt, and blame.
Parent Responses – Youth Sports General
Ali Starr also shared these back-pocket parent responses to try with your athlete throughout their sports career.
- I can imagine how that made you feel! STOP nothing else is usually needed!
- Thank you for sharing! STOP nothing else is usually needed!
- Share more or tell me more… STOP nothing else is usually needed!
- No matter what you say, do, don’t do, or be, I will never stop loving you! STOP nothing else is usually needed!
- I love that ______ (sport) is one of many parts of who you are! STOP nothing else is usually needed!
- I am proud to be your mom!
- I am proud to be your dad!
- What, if anything, can you do about that?
- How can I support you in having that conversation with your (friend, coach, teacher)?
- Let’s “FABN” it out together. Fill in the blanks, “I FEEL______, ABOUT____________, BECAUSE of _____________ and what I think I NEED is__________________!
Dinner Conversations & Connections
Ali shared her family uses a devotional book at the dinner table to connect called Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (a 365-Day Devotional).
Struggling at the Family Dinner Table? How to Come Together & Enjoy
The Family Dinner Project has many resources, including How to balance youth sports and family dinners, conversation starters, and more!
Oshkosh Area Community Resources
These resources encourage activity and “athleticism,” not just one sport.
Oshkosh Parks Department
Girls on the Run
Girls on the Run Northeast Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that aims to inspire and empower young girls from 3rd-8th grades to live healthy and confident lives through a fun and engaging curriculum that combines running and other physical activities with lessons on topics such as self-esteem, peer pressure, bullying, and more. The program uses running as a platform to teach important life skills and promote a positive outlook on life. Girls on the Run also offers a 5k event at the end of each season, which encourages girls to set and achieve a goal while fostering a sense of community and accomplishment.
Registration begins in late Summer / early Fall.
- Location: Jefferson Elementary, 244 W 11th Ave, Oshkosh
International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh
The mission of International Youth Sailing is to enrich the lives of the youth and their families in the Oshkosh area by providing opportunities to experience water and winter sports. In doing so, the organization aims to introduce kids to the enjoyment and sense of well-being and the STEM, environmental, and life lessons these activities offer.
Youth Sailing offers Basic Sailing for Beginners and Refresher Lessons. Sign up.
- Locations: Lessons typically begin and end at the Sailboat Dock across the parking lot from the baseball diamonds in Millers Bay, Menominee Park, Oshkosh.
pdsF.U.S.I.O.N. aims to fuse all the elements of wellness: spiritual, social, emotional, career, intellectual, environmental, and physical, as well as all levels, abilities, and interests. With graceful intensity and relentless passion, we are connected, creating a healthier overall person and, ultimately, a healthier community where we live and work.
pdsF.U.S.I.O.N. Kids Crew focuses on life topics, running basics, nutrition, and self-esteem and teaches kids the joy in running.
BAGO (Be Active, Go Outside) is a partnership between pdsF.U.S.I.O.N., Winnebago County Park, and the Oshkosh Recreation Department. We are working to move the needle on inactivity and obesity in Winnebago County through family-focused initiatives geared to get people outside and away from screens.
Group fitness classes geared toward the child and family, guided by certified instructors. Emphasis on whole body fitness, learning fundamentals of fitness, and building the foundation for lifelong wellness. Classes are done June-August in collaboration with the Oshkosh Recreation Department and Winnebago County Park.
Dr. Eric’s Skate Club
Dr. Eric Smiltneek, a family physician at Advocate Aurora Oshkosh, established Dr. Eric’s Skate Club in 2014, as an initiative by the Oshkosh Area School District to promote lifelong fitness and healthy lifestyles for local students. The club caters to kindergarten to 8th grade students and offers ice skating, skiing, and ice hockey.
Dr. Eric’s Skate Club also collaborates with International Youth Sailing of Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Recreation Department to expose students and community members to various winter activities, including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
The Skate Club also offers free skate rentals at Roe Park Ice Rink and Menominee Park.