August 10, 2015


While this isn't a volleyball question per se, I would appreciate your insight as a former college athletics coach:

Me and my wife believe very strongly that teenagers need to be involved in something that they have a passion for.  Often times, that is athletics.   

We have two children, one who plays volleyball, and one who plays golf.  The older child plays golf (and does so quite well).  He is yearly 16 years old.  He certainly has the capability to play college golf.  Our daughter will have the capability to play college volleyball as well.

As many teenagers are, my son (the golfer) tends to be lazy.  He sleeps in until late morning in the summer, and we generally have to push him to practice, even nudge him to play in tournaments.  I've talked to him about this, and he says he WANTS us to push him.  He complains about having to play in a tournament "because it's too early" or "because it's too hot".  So we do, though not in an overbearing way. 

His mother and I believe that our kids need to be in high school and college athletics - not because they will play pro some day (they will not), but because athletics teaches them so many life skills.

Are we wrong to push them in athletics?  Is there a point where a kid ought to be able to say "I'm not going to give it my all" while still living under my roof, and with me paying tuition, transportation, etc.?  

Thank you in advance for your feedback.

Concerned parent in Texas

Thanks for your question and from a collegiate coach perspective, I would not recruit your son simply because he is lazy - For him to say to you that it is "too early or too hot", will mean that he will say that to me when I am paying him to play college golf.  Learned behaviors are never changed in college, they only tend to get worse.

Athletics can be a great vehicle for gaining life lessons early and without the dramatic consequences which many learn later; better to mess up as a 16 year athlete rather than a 35 year business manager.  Like you, many parents believe that their children, especially teenagers, must be active in something and because of the rise of the youth sports industry, that something is athletics.

We are definitely in a generational situation where we have a number of high school age kids matriculating into young adults which have become slackers (for lack of a better word) - They just coast through their prime young lives on comfortable and lazy cruise control.  Without earning or maintaining, they are provided nice cars, nice living quarters, quality food and disposable income.  There are a zillion reasons to be a slacker (iPads, iPhones, Facebook, PS3, Twitter, Starbucks, the mall, 500 channels on cable, Netflix, Youtube, XM radio, pizza delivery, remote control, etc, etc. and etc.)

As parents, it is our responsibility to provide for our children but it is also our responsibility to prepare our children for the next step in their life, and that is when they step into the real world.

College professors and employers have zero tolerance for slackers - There is a deep pool of talented and hard working young adults, which will quickly push aside those children who have their lives on empowered cruise control.  

With regards to your son, him saying he wants to be pushed is a manipulative excuse, where he has transferred the responsibility for motivation to you.   If he has the talent to play golf, but does not want to work at it, then he is wasting a gift and that is his choice.  He is not 5 years old; he is old enough to drive a car and in 2 years, serve in the US military.

As he is 16 years old, I suggest you provide a clear picture of the future - It sounds like he is comfortable right now with his life and is not intrinsically motivated (which many folks are not) but there comes a point where that comfort zone must change because he is living under your good graces.  In general, people do not value what was given to them, rather they value what they have earned.  With regards to college, if you give him college, he will not value it.  

Tell him that the cost of college is his responsibility (and the same with your daughter - good for the gander is good for the goose).  He can either pay for that cost via an athletic scholarship or via a job but not via your checkbook.  He has a two year window to prepare, which is plenty of time to get his act together.  If he does not want to go to college, then he will need to get a job because on July 1st after graduation, you will start charging him room and board to continue at your house.

I am not a parental Dr. Phil, and we absolutely want to protect and provide for our children, but……we must also prepare them for the real world.

Good luck!

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