Lessons From The Stands

lessons from sons playing sports

As our sons have grown, my husband and I have often reminded ourselves that our goal is to raise good boys, not produce super athletes. Nevertheless, our boys have loved and excelled in their chosen sports, and learned so many valuable lessons in the process. Because of their participation, I have spent a significant amount of the past 28 years watching, cheering, and freezing from the stands

Through these years, I've not only observed but often gotten caught up in the emotions of the game, later reflecting on the insights it has offered me.

Here are five life lessons I've learned from the stands:

1.  Everyone Is Doing Their Best

No one steps onto that field or court thinking, "I hope I perform poorly today." This applies to players, coaches, referees, and even photographers. Each one is dedicated, giving their absolute best. Both teams have practiced and prepared to excel, and they deserve respect for their efforts.

Life Lesson: It's important to remember that your son is likely not waking up in the morning with the intention and hope of failing. And neither are you!  Understand that effort doesn't equate to perfection; it's about progress. Sometimes that progress is hardly noticeable but if you look for a glimpse of effort you will find it. 

2.  Too Much Pressure Diminishes Performance

It's a scene repeated often—players or coaches feeling immense pressure, only to falter when it counts the most. It's a familiar sight, and it's one that reminds us that undue pressure can lead to underperformance.

Life Lesson: We all have experienced stress and anxiety in life. Excessive pressure to succeed can often become counterproductive. While some pressure can be motivating, too much for you, or your son, can become paralyzing.

3.  The Most Respected Leaders Are Happy For Others’ Success

Teams thrive on cohesion, and the most successful ones are those in which players are genuinely happy for their teammates. When jealousy, frustration, or a desire to be the one-man show creeps in, teams fail.

Life Lesson: Leadership isn't about being the sole standout; it's about empowering others to shine. As a mom you have a great opportunity to show your son how to do this.  When he watches you compliment others, celebrate others, and appreciate others’ efforts, he is much more likely to do the same.  This fosters a sense of unity, making everyone stronger and more motivated.

4.  Let It Go And Move On

Mistakes are part of the game. Nobody is more aware that a mistake has occurred than the person who made it.  Repeatedly rehashing, rehearsing, or criticizing only adds shame and embarrassment, and certainly doesn't improve future performance; instead, it makes individuals nervous, causing them to play below their potential.

Life Lesson: Understand that we all make mistakes, and part of growth involves learning from them and moving on. You will make mistakes as the mom, and he will make mistakes as your son.  Help him develop resilience by teaching him that errors are an integral and inevitable part of life. Embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth rather than dwelling and rehashing them.

5.  Sometimes, It's Good To Lose

It's a curious phenomenon that teams often come back stronger following a loss. Losing can serve as a wake-up call, prompting players and coaches to dig deeper, strategize better, and adjust more intelligently. The sting of a loss motivates individuals to come back stronger, smarter, and more determined.

Life Lesson: Begin to view losses as valuable learning experiences. Instead of fearing failure, embrace it as a catalyst for personal and collective growth. After all, adversity can be a powerful teacher, guiding individuals to become more resilient and capable.

The lessons I've learned from the stands have not only enriched my understanding of sports but also provided valuable insights into how I treat myself and how I want to treat my son. The principles of giving our best, managing pressure, fostering team spirit, embracing mistakes, and learning from losses can be applied to us personally, and as mom to our sons.

Whether your child is on the field or not, these lessons are relevant to improving yourself and guiding them toward becoming confident, resilient, and successful individuals.

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