Setting goals and expectations may sound similar and equally motivating. They are often used interchangeably as they both seem like targets to set your sights on. You think that both give your young athlete something to aim for.
However, setting a realistic goal for your child can be a good thing while setting an unhealthy expectation for them may do harm and only cause disappointment for your young athlete.
Goals and expectation have been used synonymously and may seem like it is only a matter of words. But despite what seems like a slight difference in definition, one can inspire your young athlete and the other might potentially hurt your child emotionally and mentally.
Set realistic goals.
Goals are tangible and are often attached to a way to measure if you have reached them or not. Achieving your goal can be a process. Goals come with a commitment, a plan or a timetable, and should have an end-point.
A good goal is measurable, and if not accomplished, the athlete can make adjustments to either make them more realistic or attainable. For a young athlete, a goal could be beating their own record or score more points in the next game.
Good examples goals in athletics would be:
· Lessen my time by 5 seconds
· Score 12 points in the next game
· Don’t be late for practice for the next 2 weeks
· Hit a homerun at the next game
Don’t set unhealthy expectations.
Expectations, on the other hand, are not quantifiable and are more fueled by desires. Because there are emotions attached to expectations, setting them for your child may be damaging to their self-esteem if they are not realized.
Example of unhealthy expectations would be:
· I want you to be the best on your team.
· I expect you to do well at your next game.
· I want you to improve your performance at every practice.
· I expect you to be your team’s star player.
Because expectations are beliefs of what will happen, they are commonly unrealistic and open to judgment. A lot of emotion is linked to expectations and setting these for your kids can do more harm than good and cause them to withdraw from the game they love.
For instance, expecting your child to be the best player on their team is subject to opinion. Who determines who the “best” player is? Is it the teammate who scored the most points or the one that makes the most assists? Or is the one that exhibits the most leadership quality and sportsmanship? MVP is awarded to the player who is most responsible for their team’s success. Without setting a goal for your child, they may be heartbroken when their belief of the
Goals are reached; expectations are realized.
Parents of young athletes should be encouraging their kids to set realistic goals for themselves with healthy expectations.
“I expect you to do your best. If you do, you might make the varsity team this year.”
“I expect that you do not give up so easily. If you commit to it, you could beat the school record.”
When you unburden your young athlete from the expectation of success, they will play with more confidence. With confidence, they will be more likely to commit to their goals.