With Junior Gold on the horizon, we decided it was important to share some parent tips. We put a lot of focus on tips for the kids to succeed:
- Make your spares
- Stay positive
- Smile after each shot - Good OR Bad
- Follow through
...the list goes on and on. But what we DON’T talk about is what we can do to support our players. Here are a few things to help your bowler succeed at Junior Gold.
Don’t Yell At Your Kid
As parents, we have a tendency to treat sporting events as if they are life or death. But guess what! This isn’t Ancient Rome and they’re not Gladiators competing in the Colosseum. I can almost guarantee that the embarrassment a kid feels by having their parent scream at them during a competition is way worse than the pain of losing. If you can feel yourself getting to the boiling point, just walk away! It’s best to nicely tell your child that you have to run to the restroom or something of the sort. But if you’re getting frustrated, you have to take a break. Kids can sense your attitude whether you think you’re hiding it or not.
Coach the Right Way
If your child needs help getting lined up during practice, let them come to you before you offer guidance. Part of the process for development is learning on there own. So give them some time to do that. If the lane is breaking down and your child isn’t reading the transition, it’s ok to let them know to make a move or a ball change - if you’re qualified to offer that information. However, what you don’t want to do is try to mess with their timing, ball speed, release, footwork, etc. Anything to do with mechanics should be worked on in a practice setting. Working on these things during competition just gives an out or an excuse if the scores aren’t as expected.
If you want to track your kids stats, that’s fine. But unless your kid is a super numbers person, they likely don’t care. I think some parents track it as a way to keep calm. If you need something to focus on, stats are a great distraction. Understanding how many spares they are converting or if there is a particular pin that is extra troublesome can be great information to aid in planning a practice schedule. So use it for that. It’s not something that needs reviewed with the bowler while he or she is bowling.
Lead by Example
This is something we should strive for in general. Our kids will follow the example we set for them. So why not set an example of positive attitudes and good sportsmanship. My daughter was developing a habit of getting angry when she would miss shots. She would smack the ball return on her way back. I always bring her with me to league. One night, a senior bowler in my league hit the ball return when he missed a shot. My daughter said to me, “Wow! He looks really dumb doing that!” I replied, “And how do you think you look when you do it?” She hasn’t done it since. Remember that youthful eyes are always on you. Make sure they are seeing a positive role model.
This one is important ESPECIALLY if you failed at item 1. If the only feedback they get is when they do bad, there is no incentive to do good. Don’t forget to tell your bowler when he does good. When the pressure is on, the ability to remain positive is what can separate the kids who make the cut from those who go home early. Be the best cheerleader your kid could ask for. Our kids know when they throw a bad shot, leave an open or have a bad game. They don’t need someone scolding them for that. They are likely doing it to themselves already. When they throw a bad shot but then pick up the spare, that’s when they need to hear from you. “Way to go, Kiddo! Do it again!”
As with most sports, bowling is a mental game. The kids going to Junior Gold had to qualify to get there. Qualifying is meant to prove they have the physical skill to compete. Get all the practice out of the way and help them hone that physical game before heading to Dallas. Once you step foot in The Big D, your job should move from coach to motivator and cheerleader. Although there is scholarship money and other perks on the line, at the end of the day, it’s a game and games are meant to be fun.
Good luck to all the kids competing in Junior Gold! To the parents, be the positive force helping them succeed!