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Why Kids Play Sport

My nephew started wrestling this year for his first time; he is 5 years old. I figured that his wrestling matches would be a bunch of little kids running around on the mat attempting to wrestle each other. I was shocked to discover that my nephew is actually pretty far behind many of the other kids around his age in experience. Several of the other wrestlers have been wrestling for a few years and have developed their skills at a faster rate than the other kids.

He was becoming frustrated and putting a lot of pressure on himself at such a young age. He continued to lose match after match and was becoming distraught. My sister (his mom) called me and told me how she was nervous for his next match because he had lost his previous matches and was so upset afterwards that he started to cry. He would tell her that he is the worst wrestler and that he will never win.

Why is it that the outcome has become so important at such a young age? Why is that so many young athletes are specializing and taking a sport seriously so early on?

Youth sports have been getting more competitive over the years. Children are starting to specialize at even younger ages; even though the research has demonstrated how that can lead to burnout and not developing transferrable skills essential to the youth athlete.

Let go back to what research has shown to be the top reasons youth athletes engage in sport:

1) Have Fun
2) Learn New Skills
3) Make Friends

Studies have shown repeatedly that the number one reason kids play sports is because of ENJOYMENT. If you are a parent or a coach ask yourself this:

Is your child/athlete having fun?
Are they enjoying the sport?
Are they developing new skills?
And lastly, are they making friends?

Your child/athlete will be less likely to drop out of sport if all three core fundamental aspects are met.

In my nephew’s case, he LOVES the sport. My sister has asked if he wants to quit after he cries about losing a match. She hates seeing how frustrated he is after wrestling. He tells her that he doesn’t want to quit. He wants to keep going because he ENJOYS the sport and he is developing new skills.

This video is from one of his first matches; observe how he moves along the mat and competes.


Now this video is from his match after he lost several matches in a row. He walked onto the mat with confidence and with a passion for the sport. He spent time and energy improving his skills and look at the difference it has already made.


He had a total of 5 matches that day. He walked away winning 4 and losing the last one. He held his head up high and was awarded a trophy for second place. He couldn’t stop telling me about how he approached each match and how thrilled he was with performance. This is what youth sport is about. Challenging youth to work hard, learn new skills, and most importantly to ENJOY what they are doing.

This post is not saying whether youth should specialize or not. It’s also not suggesting when you should have your child start taking sport seriously. What it IS about is a reminder to parents, coaches, and consultants to remember why children play sports and to enhance their experience to the best of our abilities. We want them to get all of the positive attributes that sport can provide for them such as grit, teamwork, confidence, resiliency, perseverance, goal setting, leadership skills, developing healthy habits, coordination, strength, and learning how to win AND how to lose. Communicate with your kids and try your best to provide the opportunities that THEY want.

Dominate your Mindset

Imagine this: You just finished a day of work. You had a long day and head home, which is a 40-minute drive. You hit traffic and it is raining. This is what you see ahead of you:

What thoughts enter your mind?

For most of us our initial reaction is to let this bother us. We become upset, irritated, and annoyed. This stresses us out even more than we already are from our long day at work. The 40-minute drive home suddenly feels like it has doubled. We become agitated, tense, and do not arrive home in a good mood. I know when I am in this state I tend to easily forget errands that I have to run on the way home and also become upset with all of the other cars around me. Suddenly in my mind I am a professional driver and everyone else has no clue how to drive. Both of these situations just upset me even more.

What if we were able to change our mindset? What if we changed the way we view the above image and the situation? This was actually a view that I had not too long ago after a long day of work. I had a 40-minute drive ahead of me and hit traffic right away in the rain. I could have chose option 1, which I mentioned above. However, I did not want to have a stressful drive home and arrive home in a bad mood. I had a CHOICE in the matter. Instead of reacting to the situation around me I decided to respond.

I didn’t view my drive home as a long, dreadful, rainy, and stressful situation. Instead I saw an opportunity to have a dance party in my car! I was able to pop in my throwback CD’s and jam out. I sang my heart out and danced the whole drive home.

*I don’t recommend dancing too crazy if you’re driving though, SAFETY FIRST!

Guess how my drive went from then on? It FLEW BY! It seemed actually shorter because I was able to enjoy myself. There were even more songs that I was hoping to sing and dance to. I was not annoyed with the cars around me and arrived home in a positive mood. I decided during that drive to control the situation the best way that I could; which was by changing my mindset and having power over my attitude.

Imagine if we took the opportunity to decide how we wanted to feel and RESPONDED instead of REACTING. No matter what the situation is:

– A big presentation
– An interview
– A game/performance
– When something is not going the way we planned
– After making a mistake
– A kid having a temper tantrum
– A stressful day at work
– A traffic filled car ride home in the rain

During stressful, upsetting, and anxiety-provoking situations we always have a CHOICE. We can let the situation dictate our emotions OR we can choose what emotions we want to feel to overcome the situation. Maybe listening to music and dancing is not your thing. Find out what is though. What lifts you up? What brightens your mood or calms you down? Find what works and use it to your advantage.

Remember: We can’t control the situation but we can control how we RESPOND to it.

Master your mindset to master the moment everyone!

It’s my party & I’ll cry if I want to

I find it only fitting to release my FIRST blog post on one of my favorite days….

*drum roll*


If you don’t know it yet, I LOVE my birthday. In fact I just LOVE birthdays. I’m about to break it down to you in this post why I love birthdays and why YOU should cherish yours as well.

To start off I have to blame my mother. She has ALWAYS made a big deal about birthdays and continues to do so. I have been getting text messages from my mother for the last 2 weeks counting down the days until my birthday and then precedes to text me the birthday song in ALL CAPS. She also calls me on my birthday at 10:30 AM to tell me the story of the day I was born. She starts to tell me how she was getting ready for work and started feeling cramps. She ignored it and continued to get ready until they got worse. She decided to have my dad bring her to the hospital and have my grandparents take my older brother and sister once she found out that I was coming soon! She calls me every year to tell me this story and I have it memorized. What’s great about my mother is that she makes you feel SPECIAL on your birthday. Really though that’s what birthdays are, it’s a SPECIAL day to honor YOU!

Now I’m not saying that you need to be that annoying person who gushes to everyone how important you are because it’s your birthday and that they should all be singing to you, giving you special treatment, and providing gifts. What I am saying is that you should appreciate the day you were born and treat yourself because it’s a powerful and magical day for you.

Although my mom is to blame for why I always looked forward to my birthday growing up I have changed my reasoning for why I look forward to it. It used to be because I would get a birthday week with presents, a birthday party, and always got to pick my meals and treats throughout the day. For me today though it is a time for SO much more. Here they are below:

Reasons birthdays are important to me:

1) It is a time to be GRATEFUL.

You have survived another year of life. That’s a big accomplishment because life is HARD! It is a time to reflect on everything within the past year that you are grateful for. I’m grateful for another year of life to do what I love and be around amazing people. I am grateful to my parents for bringing me into this crazy and beautiful world. I am grateful for my friends and family who have supported me throughout my ups and downs that I get to celebrate with. I am grateful to appreciate myself and all that I have done and all that I hope to do. Having an attitude for gratitude is crucial in improving your health, outlook on life, and happiness. Studies have shown that being grateful has a TON of benefits on your well being so get on board and start writing down what you are grateful for!

2) It is a time to gather around those who are IMPORTANT to you.

It is a time to find time to get together with family and friends who you may not have seen in awhile. I know that I have a busy schedule and I don’t make the time to catch up with those around me who are important. My birthday makes me put time aside without feeling guilty for leaving work early or not working on other things that I should be doing like cleaning the house. I get to go out and eat with those that I love and enjoy every minute of it guilt free and really be in the PRESENT MOMENT. I don’t make excuses because I know that I owe it to myself and I owe it to those I care about to celebrate with them.

3) Birthdays are a time for SELF-REFLECTION.

Every year on my birthday I reflect back on the previous year. What successes did I experience? What challenges did I overcome? What goals did I meet or what goal am I working towards? It’s a time to see the growth and progress that you have made as a person. I enjoy being able to see how far I have come since my previous birthday. Although after turning 23 there was not much for me to look forward to age-wise. Age is just a number though. I now enjoy being able to see what each year has brought me and excited to see what new adventures await me for the following year.

4) They are a time for SELF-CARE.

I don’t know about you but my birthday is a time for PAMPERING! Like I said before, I’m a busy person! I do not make much time for myself for things like getting my nails done, getting a haircut, a massage, etc. During my birthday though I treat myself to one or a few of the above mentioned pampering activities. I usually feel guilty for spending time and money on those things because I know I can push through without them. On my birthday though I take the time to relish in these indulgences and give myself time to unwind and relax. I will watch extra Netflix episodes because WHY NOT or indulge in one too many Reese’s because that’s my favorite candy and I get to spoil myself. It’s a time to live guilt free and find every opportunity I can to take care of myself and make sure that I am as happy as I can be on my special day.

5) They are a time for POSITIVITY and MOTIVATION.

If you don’t like my birthday, too bad because I don’t care! On my birthday I don’t deal with negativity. I am more motivated and positive because I am engaging in all of the above-mentioned activities. I am engaging in self-care, self-reflection, and gratitude which all boosts my self-esteem and motivation. I don’t waste my time and energy on the haters and critics. I especially refuse to be my own worst critic on my birthday.

This blog post is a great example!

If you asked me one month ago if I will write my first post on my birthday and I would have told you no way! I would have cared too much on what others thought. I would have felt like they think I’m boasting or gloating about my birthday. I would have worried about how my blog came across and any spelling errors that I had. I would have been too critical and negative to consider posting it. But guess what, NOT TODAY! Not on MY DAY. I get to choose what I want to do and my birthday gave me the extra boost of motivation and confidence that I needed to finally write my first post. I have been going back and forth on writing one since October! My birthday is my day to do what serves me and to feel good about my abilities and myself.

6) It’s a time to be truly, unapologetically, and authentically YOU.

During the summer one of my amazing mentors always encouraged me to be truly unapologetically and authentically ME during my sessions at IMG academy in Florida. However, it is not that easy at times. I get caught up in the negativity that can occur in our own thoughts, compare myself to others, and try to be someone I’m not. On my birthday though it is not hard at all. I get to do what I WANT to do and engage in activities that fill ME up. I get to include people that I WANT to be around to experience my birthday celebration with. During my birthday I get a free pass to be the fullest me that I can be, without judgment. I’m carefree and I’m truly the meest me (I just made up that word) that I can be on my birthday.

I hope that this post inspires you to think about your birthday differently. Use it as a time for motivation, inspiration, and gratitude to fill you up instead of putting you down. Getting old is hard. Many people do not like their birthday because aging scares them. Change your perspective.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Use your birthday as FUEL to reach your dreams and to love yourself. Just like the song, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” you get to choose what YOU want to do on YOUR day. How empowering is that? Make it authentically you and own it!

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