“Mom! I forgot my water bottle!”
“Coach, I don’t have my jersey.”
When I was a young athlete, I remember always forgetting something at home – from shoes to a jersey – and my parents would come to my rescue. Every time. At some point, my coach told my mom to stop rescuing me. The next time I forgot something, I would have to sit out, and hopefully, that would teach me a lesson. The next time came when I forgot my shoes, and I inevitably missed a game. Like most athletes, I loved games more than practices, and I never forgot my shoes again.
Learning how to prepare for your practices or games is a valuable life skill that young athletes can master this season. October is the best time to start. Parents and coaches can help athletes learn how to set themselves up for a successful season.
If you start with the end goal in mind, it would look like this: an athlete would prepare their bag the night before the game. They would include their shoes, water bottle, game jersey, and shorts – after finding them independently within their home. Their bag would be left neatly at the front door, ready for an on-time leave to a game or practice.
Idealistic? Perhaps. The truth is that the craziness of family life often leaves many families scrambling to get homework done, dinner ready, and driving to practice on time. My family is not exempt. I remember when I have forgotten to set the routine for my kids in October – without stating my expectations clearly and repeatedly – and my kids forgot key items. Aim for the ideal. Strive to set a routine at the beginning of the season and set the expectation that your athlete will prepare the night before. It will make for less yelling and craziness overall. But as parents, we have to let our kids forget when they forget. It sets a natural consequence – even if it brings the occasional, ‘but you didn’t remind me!’ We did remind them. We reminded them that they needed to prepare better the next time.
Preparing for what we need to be ready for is a life skill. It will teach your athlete to think ahead and to consider what they need to do now to be successful later. Study ahead for a test, ensure clothes are ready for an important interview, make your lunch and prepare snacks before leaving the house, or secure your transportation for where you need to be on time. Preparing for practice or a game is the beginning of a life skill that will carry them through their academic, personal, and professional lives.
Share with your athlete more lessons learned in sports that can lead to success in life. Check out my book, Life is a Sport, or let our coaches mentor your athletes at Elite Camps’ programs in Toronto or our overnight camp, Hoop Dreams, in the South Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada.
Founding Owner Of Elite Camps / Director of Hoop Dreams