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How did we get here?

Thank you so much for joining us in the Swish community! I’m excited to share with you everything I’ve learned in parent education, sports science, social science and brain research over the last 25 years. You may want to pull up a chair! I’ve had the opportunity to make tons of mistakes and to learn from incredible mentors. I want to use these lessons to support you in creating environments so that kids will flourish. I want them to not only have fun, but also to learn life skills that will be invaluable for them as they grow up and make their way in the world.

Here’s how we got here….

I thought I knew everything about sports. I had played pretty much every sport growing up. I had a degree in Sports Science. I’d competed in the Olympic Games. I’d coached. I’d watched. I’d loved every minute of it (OK, maybe not every minute!) and I had done it on my own terms. No-one had tried to force or coerce me to play on any level. I somehow thought that when my kids started playing and competing, it would all be rainbows and unicorns. Uh… not so much.

I was not prepared for what I witnessed. The yelling. The tears. The slumped shoulders and hanging heads. The berating. The bribing. The complaining about the refs, the opposition and the teammates. This was coming from parents as well as coaches and players. Whatever happened to sports being fun? I knew the adults cared, but something was getting in the way. That wasn’t the experience I wanted for my kids.

I knew it didn’t have to be like this, yet I saw it in every sporting arena. It wasn’t every parent, but there was an alarming trend across youth sports. There had to be a better way! I couldn’t believe that any outcomes could be justified by these means. No accomplishment is worth the lifelong negative impact on a child’s emotional development, when there is so much positive to be gained from involvement in sports.

The good news is that there were also some supportive parents, calm coaches and some kids (actually, those same kids) having fun. The parents and coaches who yelled were doing it because that’s how they thought parents and coaches were supposed to behave. They didn’t think it was possible to have “success” without it. Thank goodness that’s not true- look at Phil Jackson or Pete Carroll.

When we know better, we do better. My mission became to help parents and coaches “know better”. I trained to become a parent educator with the goal of bringing respectful, empowering relationships-based leadership to youth sports, both on the court and at home. Social science research teaches us that this style of interaction creates emotionally healthy, motivated, thriving kids and adults.

I have been training coaches and working with parents for several years, but this is my first opportunity to have a direct impact on a program from the beginning. Mark, Mike and I have designed this program to be intentional about teaching the skills we want our young people to take away from their Swish experience. They’ll learn basketball, but it’s much more than that. We specifically created the program to curate social, emotional and leadership qualities as well.

Over the coming weeks and months, I want to give you as much support as I can. We’ll take a deep dive into what we really hope our kids get out of sports and check in on whether our actions are actually leading us toward or away from those long term goals. This really is for the kids, so let’s also look at why they want to be there. I’m going to share stories, research, and tips along the way. Please feel free to comment and ask any questions you may have.

Thanks for sharing this journey with us!