Note to Reader: Sports kids stress, and football season are all kicking up into high gear. Do you just sit on the sidelines stressing out or are you ready to employ some strategies to relax? Thanks to football mom Janis Meredith for sharing her R & R. 

Kids Football is back and moms and dads are cheering.If you have a child in youth sports, then you know that sometimes the youth sports scene can get pretty tense. The following excerpt from Football Momʼs Survival Guide may be speaking to moms of football players,
Football Stressbut the truths are for every parent who feels that youth sports is taking a toll on his or her emotions and energy. 

If you really want to help your son do his best, if you really want to help him succeed, and if you really want to help him grow and develop, then memorize these three Rs.

Relax

When I say relax, I am not suggesting that you remain aloof or appear apathetic to your childʼs sports. Iʼm not even saying that you shouldnʼt get nervous. Iʼve sat many hours in the stands with nerves on edge watching my son play football. When he was starting quarterback his senior year, my stomach was in knots and I often had diarrhea! Wanting him to do his best,hoping he wouldnʼt get sacked, praying he wouldnʼt get injured, willing him to complete every pass to the right color jersey, and hoping heʼd feel good about his performance.

When I say relax, I am saying that you should not be so obsessed with your sonʼs performance that you canʼt see the bigger picture of sports. Help him improve, yes! Challenge him to work hard, yes! But never, ever forget that the most important part of your childʼs sports playing is NOT found in his stats, his press clippings, or his awards. The most important part of sports is who your son becomes in the process. Someday, he will outgrow sports, but he will never outgrow the character lessons he learns while playing.

Often coaches tell their players to have a ritual that helps them relax because they know the mental game is huge and many great athletes have a ritual that helps them focus. A tennis player may adjust racquet strings in between shots even though the strings donʼt need adjusting. A football kicker may take a deep breath and stretch his neck side to side before the snap. A batter might swing a heavy bat. A softball hitter may tap the base. Rituals provide a sense of stability and help us stay focused on our goals.

Do you have “rituals” to help you relax as a sports mom? Give it a try. It might help you relax and focus on what is important. Bring a water bottle, sit in the same location, chew on sunflowerseeds. Say a prayer. Familiar habits will help you relax.

When we relax, we are less likely to get uptight about bad calls, coaching issues, and our childʼs performance, and we are more likely to see the bigger picture of sports. That perspective wil lalso aid in your relaxation efforts because then you will know that the world will not end if your son doesnʼt get his playing time or if he doesnʼt get enough good plays.

Rejoice

Maybe the game was a disastrous loss. Or your son only played one quarter. Or maybe he got in the game but made some major goofs. Nothing to celebrate there, right?

Then look closer.

Underneath the mistakes and the embarrassment and frustration, there is always something to enjoy. Look for your sonʼs small victories—they are in every game.

Recognize good skills and plays on both sides. Sometimes, it is just simply the fact that your child is able to play sports. Rejoicing may not come easy for some of you. If so, you must practice looking for the positive by looking for the little things to rejoice about, and be a positive example for your kids.

Release

Part of a parentʼs job is to be in control . . . at least for a while. But the other part of a parentʼs job is to prepare our sons to be in control. And thatʼs why you must start releasing them a little bit at a time.

Let him make mistakes, and show him how to learn from them.

Encourage him to fight his own battles, whether itʼs confronting a coach or a teammate.

Teach him how to make his own choices and how to understand the consequences of those choices.

Resist the temptation to always make his path a smooth and easy one. There are times to step in and help, and there are times to let him figure it out.

Another layer to releasing our sons is to learn to adjust to what the game is throwing at him.Quarterbacks must learn to read the defense and sometimes make last minute adjustments.Defensive players must learn to read the offense and think on their feet as they make an important defensive stop.

In the same way that athletes learn to quickly adjust during a game, sports parents can also learn to adjust, because everything wonʼt always go the way you think it should. Itʼs all part of releasing your child.

Maybe the coach asked your child to play a new position this year, when you were counting on the old one. Perhaps your kid is not getting the playing time you were hoping for. Or at the last minute, your child decides he doesnʼt want to play the sport you love to watch him play.

My husband coached one boy whose parent passed around a petition to have my husbandfired! The reason? His son was not getting the playing time he “deserved.”

My answer to that—which of course I didnʼt ever get to say to because I am the coachʼs wife, not the coach—is that her son needs to first of all stop blaming the coach for his own lack of ability, and second of all, stop focusing on only himself. “And Mom,” I so wanted to say, “Let him go; let him grow up and fight his own battles!”

Being a sports mom can be all-consuming and emotionally draining, adding another layer of challenge to the already demanding job of parenting. But I am convinced that if you can remember to relax, rejoice, and release, your sports parenting experience will be much more enjoyable—for you and your son.

Janis Meredith, sports mom and coachʼs wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks. Get her latest ebook “Football Momʼs Survival Guide” just released in July.

(If you need extra help falling asleep after the game try Indigo Dreams: Adult Relaxation )