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Luypie

Team sports. to continue or quit.

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I apologize, if the topic is not well related to this forum. I have been thinking a lot about this and thought I would ask for some advice.

I have a 7 year old boy who has been playing hockey and soccer, since he was 5. He plays hockey year around and plays soccer in the summer. He's an excellent skater with good speed. His skillset is above average. He seems to like hockey and soccer. He gets up at 6:00 in the morning to go to a session at 7:00 am. He doesn't complain a word about getting up early. He actually looks excited and gets ready to go. The problem comes, when it's game time. He doesn't actively participate in the game. He just skates around and doesn't go after the puck. It's painful to watch. I don't see any other kids doing it. All the other kids are going after the puck and trying to contribute, while he just circles around. He comes out and says his teammate was saying they lost because of him. Then, he becomes sad. Sometimes he says that "I'm horrible at this" or "I'm not a good player."  I'm worried this is going to affect his self-esteem. Same thing happens in soccer. He runs around and doesn't go after the ball. He's not engaged in the game. Same thing. It's painful to watch.

We have had numerous discussions about team work and work ethics. We even started a reward system to motivate him. I ask him every season if he wants to sign up for next season.  I secretly want him to say no, but his answer has been always yes.  I thought it was a skill issue. We put him into group lessons in late spring and summer. His skill set is above average. I know he can do it, because, when they play 3 on 3 for whatever reason (short of players, etc), he is actively engaged and even does a hat trick (3 goals). Even in soccer, there was one game they had to play 3 on 3 and he was fine. I wonder if he doesn't like body contacts and wants to maintain his personal space in games. Maybe there are too many kids going after the puck, he doesn't want to be squeezed in there.

Next year, he is going to start a sparring session in Tae Kwon Do. I am hoping that it would help with this personal space issue.

I just want him to be able to enjoy sports and stay active. If he is not good at team sports, he can do individualized sports, like swimming or Taekwondo. I have no issue with it. The issue I'm having is that he wants to continue, yet he gets discouraged by negative comments from teammates and then it affects his confidence and self-esteem. I feel, as a parent, I should know how to guide him to make better choices and I wonder if I should guide him away from team sports.

When he first signed up for hockey, they had an education session for parents, which basically said that good kids will dominate the game at first and your kids may not enjoy it as much, but when they hit 10, they will get it. While this sounds very promising and positive, I haven't met anyone with similar experience yet. Does anyone have similar experience? Does it improve as they grow up? Once they are 10, do they start to get it and get better? Is it worth to continue, because he wants to, even if it affects his self esteem and confidence? Should I guide him into something else?

 

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Yes, they do get better.  My middle dd only made the travel team because they needed my Dh to coach.  (We weren’t planning on her joining the travel team and she didn’t tryout, Dh was recruited to coach and she was a package deal.). Fast forward to high school, she was a starting varsity player three years, only subbed on the field when she wanted out.  Only two other girls from the travel team in her class were starting varsity and some of the girls from the travel team, who also played club several years, were still floaters their senior year.  Dd was recruited by d2 & 3 teams, but her heart was set on the d1 school she’s attending.  Her classes conflict with the club team’s practices for the fall, but she has been invited to join the team in the spring.

Anyway, if he wants to play, then I’d let him.  Maybe intramural would be a good fit, rather than a tryout team.  Some kids seem clueless one season and then are an mvp the next!  I would be talking to him after the game about  why he doesn’t go after the ball so you can tease out if it is because of the personal space issue and if so, maybe you can role play in the backyard to get him more comfortable with it.

 

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Have you talked with the coach? Are you staying to observe practices to see what's happening? 

It can happen that someone is fine with the skills of the sport but struggles with the actual play. My ds, for instance, has autism, and he is good at soccer for skills but struggles to follow the pace of the game and understand the bigger picture (who has the ball, which way they're going, etc.). 

But really, I wouldn't *assume* something like that is happening. I would just ask the coach and try to get in and observe. It's also ok to take a break from things, just to take a break. My ds has done competitive gymnastics and swim, soccer, track, etc. He's actually good at everything, but the coaches will encourage diversity and taking breaks at this age to prevent burnout. Now it's true, sports are super competitive earlier and earlier. Still, what can happen is kids peak and are ready to move on. So you might find that if you tried another sport (gymnastics, gymnastics) he'd be just as good as that too. It would give him some basis for comparison.

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 I am deleting my post because of a comment below.  The person who commented below does not know what it is like to parent a child with Aspergers.  Kids with Aspergers have to be parented differently than typical children. 

Edited by nwahomeschoolmom

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Welcome to the forum.

He's seven. His behavior is not unusual, even if you happened to luck onto a team where the kids are a bit more on the ball (or the puck, so the case may be).

I wouldn't do reward systems. Stay out of it. Just cheer him on. That's always the best answer for what should you do for a kid in a sport, whether they're great or not.

Team sports aren't for all kids. Individual sports may be better - like the tae kwan do. Or other teams, such as robotics teams or Destination Imagination or things like that. Team skills are important. Keeping physical is important. But not all kids will be great at either. And the two don't have to be tackled together. And it's always good to remember that 7 yos are young. Also, that some of us (me included) have a tendency to see the worst in our kids. Another parent whose kid you're looking at thinking "he looks so graceful on the ice!" may be thinking, "what's wrong with little Benny, why won't he stay on the right side of the ice!" Really, just go easy about it all.

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Some kids get better and some don't.

I have one kid who had good skills in practice, but struggled with the quick action of games. It all came together by age 10. I'm glad we let him continue to choose team sports even when it was painful to watch those early games from the sidelines. He's a teen now and continues to play. He isn't the star or mvp, but he's a decent player and loves the game.

I have another kid who struggled in practice, struggled in games, and had no interest in practicing or even playing around with a ball on his own. I would cringe from the sidelines. Yet every season, he would say that he wanted to play. We finally decided that it just wasn't fair to his teammates. So we helped him choose some activities that were more his speed (cub scouts and rec swimming), and he was very, very happy. He really just wanted a group of boys who were his buddies, but he needed our guidance to find the right group.

So I think it's a judgement call as far as where your kid falls on that spectrum. But team sports are not for all kids. Games with balls (or pucks) are not for all kids. You can learn teamwork in many different settings, and you can get exercise in many different ways. So you could stick it out or you could explore other options, but you probably won't go wrong as long as you're listening to your son. He's pretty young so if he says he wants to play, then it all may come together for him down the line.

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He is seven.  You go to the game, everyone runs round without much skill then you go home.  I would be more concerned about the kids who are over concerned about winning.  Maybe though you can have someone watch a game with him and talk him through the action - he may simply be unsure what to do with full teams.

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Well, since it seems important to your son, I'd try and learn more about what's going on.  Have you talked to the coach about it, or asked your ds why he doesn't go after the puck?

My ds really wanted to be in the community swim club, but he was very hesitant in the water.  I think he loved the idea of being on a team, and that's what kept him going.  I'm pretty sure that at 7 he was still quite timid in the water.  By the time he was in high school, he was a state champion.  So, he did get over it!

So you never know.  Or, maybe your ds will discover that different sports are more his thing.

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I have an 8yo who is starting hockey.  What you describe is perfectly normal for his age.  The league here acknowledges this and doesn't do full teams for under 10s, but has a training program that is low-key: practice one day a week followed by a practice game one day a week.  No scores are kept.  It's solely for the purpose of getting used to working in teams of various sizes.

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Not sure how unusual you're son's behavior is, per the crowd. But it also might be worth trying a sport like baseball, which pretty much forces participation and has a bit more coach direction. "Bob! Pick up the ball and throw it to 1st base!" 

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I had one son who just wasn't competitive. He is very easy going. So he wouldn't go after the ball to try to take it away from an opponent. And he wouldn't mind if an opponent took it away from him. So that is another thing for you to consider - maybe the child is just not competitive enough for team sports. In that case, an individual sport may be a better fit. 

Thinking about it now, sports may be confusing for children. For years we drill: share, don't take things away, be kind. Then we put them in a sport: keep the ball, take the ball away from the other kids, be ruthless. I am not opposed at all to team sports, but I wonder if this confuses some kids.

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My oldest son was like that, he just wasn't aggressive in sports. I totally agree with Skippy, we drill kindness and love and then yell at them to be aggressive in sports. I can see how it's confusing. My son did better at individual sports, where his only competition was himself. 

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I agree about watching a practice and talking to the coach.  Hockey is one of those sports that is just run so much differently for every team. If you're in a highly competitive rink where there are A and B teams, it often changes the dynamic.  I don't know all the details or how the coach handles the team. Because your son enjoys the game,  I'd look first to see if there are shinny games he could play in for fun.  I'd also suggest getting out on the ice for public skate times and engaging him in some one on one.  Or play street hockey, kitchen floor hockey, whatever.  🙂 Encourage him to go after the puck actively, but in a setting that would be more manageable to him.  If he's still timid, it is not going to get better as he gets older in hockey, it's going to get worse. Once contact starts, he's going to hang back more and more.  I wouldn't use this as an issue to pull him now though.  If he's still feeling this way as he gets older, he's going to decide on his own not to play.  I do think it's going to be hard on his self esteem when the other players accuse him of not playing - just keep talking him through this - explain that hockey is a quick pace, team sport.  That he has a job on the ice and his team members need him to go after the puck and are frustrated when he holds back.  Does he watch hockey? I'd watch a game with him, show him how each player engages. You could even try taping one of his games and watching it back with him.  He might not even realize that he's hanging back.  I think it's very important to make other skating opportunities available to him also.  So many kids want to play, but not competitively.  They want to shoot a puck around and just have fun, but they push themselves to be on a team because that is what their friends are doing.  They don't want to be left out.  Make sure he has other ways to engage with his friends. Sometimes that is all it really takes and they lose their need to be on a team they don't really enjoy.

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I think that's fairly normal.  In fact, I have heard people who are experts in kids sports say that team play is really not the most developmentally appropriate at that level, because the kids just don't have the right kind of strategic thinking yet.  I think some kids don't seem to care and just carry on anyway, a few are more advanced and can really participate. But some seem to realise something is missing, or feel frustrated, or just don't see the point.

My approach has been to have younger kids in activities where that kind of thinking isn't really part of it yet - fun gymnastics, martial arts, dance, games with a clear leader.  I felt like it was around 10 that the majority really started to get the idea of how a team could work together to win.  Recreational skating can be a ton of fun, if he is a good skater.

I would take the fact that he enjoys them with a grain of salt.  Kids are inexperienced, they might generally enjoy the social activity and the exercise, without realising that there are many other activities that have those elements as well.

I will say, part of my thinking would be, hockey is so bleeding expensive, I'd save it for when a child was able to get the most out of it.

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On 12/3/2018 at 9:28 PM, nwahomeschoolmom said:

My son is 6 and we pulled him off the soccer team after the first game.  He did "okay" during practices, but during the first game he was so out of it, overwhelmed, and sat down on the ground multiple times.  We told him he wasn't getting a second chance and that soccer teams were for boys who already understood that you weren't supposed to sit on the ground during a soccer game. Perhaps it was harsh, but yes, the game was painful for us to watch as parents and we could tell the other parents were annoyed.  It wasn't fair to the team.  For my son, pulling him off the team was a good lesson in consequences for actions.  Also, my son is in the 0-1% for height and has some motor delay, plus the ADHD and possibly ASD1..The game was tough to watch.  He is doing well in an "ninja warrior class" now ..but I think we are done with team sports.  

All that to say, it wouldn't be unreasonable to have your son take a break from team sports, even if he does want to stay.  Maybe a break would make him more motivated for the games the next season?  But you do say his sports skills are good, so I wonder what is going on with the games then?   (My son wasn't thriving in any way.. He could have done fine on a 3-4 year old team but he was 6.)

 

I am trying so so so so sooooo hard to keep my mouth shut!  But what a cruel way to speak to a 6 yr old after ONE game!

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On 12/5/2018 at 12:53 AM, kiwik said:

He is seven.  You go to the game, everyone runs round without much skill then you go home.  I would be more concerned about the kids who are over concerned about winning.  Maybe though you can have someone watch a game with him and talk him through the action - he may simply be unsure what to do with full teams.

 

Yes!

My 8yr old tried soccer this past fall.  He loved it.  I grew up in a country where soccer was THE sport.  It was a bit painful for me to watch him play at first, but then I stepped back and said "he is 8, they are not even keeping score, who the heck cares???"

He wants to do it next year again and I'll sign him up in a heartbeat. 

OP - may be your son doesn't want to get hurt but still likes all other aspects of the game?  I would let him be.  I WOULD talk to the coach so he can put a lid on other kids saying mean things.  Bc frankly, if 7 yr olds making another 7 yr old feel bad for "loosing a game", that's not too great.

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At that level if one team was short of players we would even up the teams.  Everyone tried to win but no one cares my afterwards.  

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On 12/13/2018 at 11:16 PM, SereneHome said:

 

I am trying so so so so sooooo hard to keep my mouth shut!  But what a cruel way to speak to a 6 yr old after ONE game!

I have deleted my post above  and put the comment: "I am deleting my post because of a comment below.  The person who commented below does not know what it is like to parent a child with Aspergers.  Kids with Aspergers have to be parented differently than typical children."

Honestly, I find your post about me a bit cruel.  

 

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29 minutes ago, nwahomeschoolmom said:

I have deleted my post above  and put the comment: "I am deleting my post because of a comment below.  The person who commented below does not know what it is like to parent a child with Aspergers.  Kids with Aspergers have to be parented differently than typical children."

Honestly, I find your post about me a bit cruel.  

 

If I missed the part of your post where you mention that your son has Aspergers, I sincerely apologize and would have never ever made such a comment.  Otherwise, I stand by what I said.

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21 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

If I missed the part of your post where you mention that your son has Aspergers, I sincerely apologize and would have never ever made such a comment.  Otherwise, I stand by what I said.

Its in my signature and it my post: "Also, my son is in the 0-1% for height and has some motor delay, plus the ADHD and possibly ASD1."  We are awaiting the "formal" diagnosis for ASD1 because as you may or may not know, its hard for kids with high IQs to get diagnosed.  ASD1 is also called Aspergers. But I'll probably stick to the Learning Challenges board like I usually do from here on out, unless its strictly curriculum based.  I guess there is a reason why we have a separate forum since its so easy to be judged and misunderstood. 

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13 minutes ago, nwahomeschoolmom said:

Its in my signature and it my post: "Also, my son is in the 0-1% for height and has some motor delay, plus the ADHD and possibly ASD1."  We are awaiting the "formal" diagnosis for ASD1 because as you may or may not know, its hard for kids with high IQs to get diagnosed.  ASD1 is also called Aspergers. But I'll probably stick to the Learning Challenges board like I usually do from here on out, unless its strictly curriculum based.  I guess there is a reason why we have a separate forum since its so easy to be judged and misunderstood. 

I sincerely apologize for my original comment.  I completely missed that part and it's 100% on me.

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On 12/17/2018 at 2:50 PM, nwahomeschoolmom said:

I have deleted my post above  and put the comment: "I am deleting my post because of a comment below.  The person who commented below does not know what it is like to parent a child with Aspergers.  Kids with Aspergers have to be parented differently than typical children."

Honestly, I find your post about me a bit cruel.  

 

From the point of view of someone with a probably ASD child and may friends with autistic kids I find it even harder to understand the approach you used.  However if it worked for your family and he is happily doing something else I guess it is just differences in families.

It also depends a lot on local approach to sports I guess.

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3 hours ago, kiwik said:

From the point of view of someone with a probably ASD child and may friends with autistic kids I find it even harder to understand the approach you used.  However if it worked for your family and he is happily doing something else I guess it is just differences in families.

It also depends a lot on local approach to sports I guess.

 

Autistic adult, agree 100% with the bolded. Six year olds are practically babies. If the other parents are annoyed by what is, honestly, still age-appropriate behavior then they need to get a grip and seriously re-evaluate their own priorities.

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On 12/3/2018 at 12:37 PM, Luypie said:

I apologize, if the topic is not well related to this forum. I have been thinking a lot about this and thought I would ask for some advice.

I have a 7 year old boy who has been playing hockey and soccer, since he was 5. He plays hockey year around and plays soccer in the summer. He's an excellent skater with good speed. His skillset is above average. He seems to like hockey and soccer. He gets up at 6:00 in the morning to go to a session at 7:00 am. He doesn't complain a word about getting up early. He actually looks excited and gets ready to go. The problem comes, when it's game time. He doesn't actively participate in the game. He just skates around and doesn't go after the puck. It's painful to watch. I don't see any other kids doing it. All the other kids are going after the puck and trying to contribute, while he just circles around. He comes out and says his teammate was saying they lost because of him. Then, he becomes sad. Sometimes he says that "I'm horrible at this" or "I'm not a good player."  I'm worried this is going to affect his self-esteem. Same thing happens in soccer. He runs around and doesn't go after the ball. He's not engaged in the game. Same thing. It's painful to watch.

We have had numerous discussions about team work and work ethics. We even started a reward system to motivate him. I ask him every season if he wants to sign up for next season.  I secretly want him to say no, but his answer has been always yes.  I thought it was a skill issue. We put him into group lessons in late spring and summer. His skill set is above average. I know he can do it, because, when they play 3 on 3 for whatever reason (short of players, etc), he is actively engaged and even does a hat trick (3 goals). Even in soccer, there was one game they had to play 3 on 3 and he was fine. I wonder if he doesn't like body contacts and wants to maintain his personal space in games. Maybe there are too many kids going after the puck, he doesn't want to be squeezed in there.

Next year, he is going to start a sparring session in Tae Kwon Do. I am hoping that it would help with this personal space issue.

I just want him to be able to enjoy sports and stay active. If he is not good at team sports, he can do individualized sports, like swimming or Taekwondo. I have no issue with it. The issue I'm having is that he wants to continue, yet he gets discouraged by negative comments from teammates and then it affects his confidence and self-esteem. I feel, as a parent, I should know how to guide him to make better choices and I wonder if I should guide him away from team sports.

When he first signed up for hockey, they had an education session for parents, which basically said that good kids will dominate the game at first and your kids may not enjoy it as much, but when they hit 10, they will get it. While this sounds very promising and positive, I haven't met anyone with similar experience yet. Does anyone have similar experience? Does it improve as they grow up? Once they are 10, do they start to get it and get better? Is it worth to continue, because he wants to, even if it affects his self esteem and confidence? Should I guide him into something else?

 

I had a similar experience with my daughter when she was that age, but the sport was basketball.  She enjoyed the practices and the team drills, but during the game, she would not go after the ball.  When we asked her about it, she told us that she felt bad taking the ball away from someone else.  I wonder if your son has similar feelings?

Is there any way your son can continue to participate in the practice sessions and lessons (which he seems to enjoy), but not play in the actual games until he is older?

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20 hours ago, kiwik said:

From the point of view of someone with a probably ASD child and may friends with autistic kids I find it even harder to understand the approach you used.  However if it worked for your family and he is happily doing something else I guess it is just differences in families.

It also depends a lot on local approach to sports I guess.

The locals here are bit more crazy and intense about sports than we are used to.  It didn't seem like anybody was "playing for fun."  We are not from this state.  I have an out-of-state friend who is also keeping her son from sports here for the same reason.  It was not how I remembered sports growing up. Of course we do the best we can with our son and would have kept him in it had it been a good, laid-back, fun learning environment for him.  We were trying to keep him from embarrassing himself in an environment that was not right for him.  Just last week, my son got in trouble at his Ninja class and he sat on my lap sobbing for 10 minutes chewing on his stuffed animal and I wasn't angry at him at all.  He is getting frustrated with his own motor coordination and attention deficits and is tired of sports.  I know him well and try to know when to be stricter and when to be super nurturing.   We probably need some expert behavioral intervention but are still waiting on proper diagnosis.  I had no idea my post would generate so much flack weeks later.  With a son like ours you really can't win with anything.  Some people think we are too easy, some people think we are too strict. Some people don't even believe in ADHD or autism.  Lesson learned about internet forums.  Having an special needs kiddo is hard enough...this is not something I need.  Can ya'll please move on and discuss the OP?

Edited by nwahomeschoolmom

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My son just turned 7 and is in his 2nd year playing hockey.  Growing up, we were a very involved hockey family for my 2 brothers.  It is not a sport I thought I would be involved because I know how crazy it gets, even though it's the only game I would watch.  Super competitive kids and parents and the game gets rough as they get older.  Also gets very expensive.  We'll play again next year in 8u, but I'm a little reluctant for 10U.  Right now, we have 3 days of hockey a weeks, and 10U jumps to 5 days a week.   We're traveling 350 mi for a tournament next month (for a 7 yr old!), and that only gets more intense as they get older.  I signed up my son because he was getting picked on in Sunday school.  Hockey seems to give a strong sense of confidence.  It has definitely helped his confidence but now he also loves the game.  He is super competitive, especially at game time.  I remember last year (in 6U), the kids were all hesitant to get the puck because I think they know that in real life you don't take from others and you share, etc.  So once they get over that, they get competitive.  If your son is not competitive, don't push the sport.  Especially a sport like hockey.  Why over commit time and money when he doesn't love it?  I definitely wouldn't do year round hockey.  I would try more sports and find where he may do better.  If he has space/contact issues, that will only get worse as he gets older and there is checking. 

What are you hoping to achieve with hockey?  Do you have a family history?  A lot of friends that play?  Neighborhood rink/ pond?  NHL hopes (so many parents have)?  If you do take him out of hockey, just continue rec skating as he may enjoy that more than the game.

Edited by parent

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