One thing that really annoys me is when kids are pitted against one another. I don’t like it from coaches, parents or kid on kid. It serves no purpose, at least not a useful one. It generally builds animosity amongst kids. Don’t we have enough of that already?
I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard kids say “I am going to beat you”. I have begged my kids never to do it, I can’t promise they haven’t but I really hope not.
It happens in all sports – I have seen it in softball, soccer, track and swimming. One time this little pip squeak came up to Grace (have I mentioned Grace is quite tall with long legs?) just before the start of a 5K and said “I am going to beat you”. She was also 2 years younger than Grace. It didn’t happen. It was one of those things that couldn’t happen, they had trained together with a group for the 5K. I know her parents were the type to suggest this as a possibility, I believe it came from them.
It is especially frustrating to see in swimming, a sport less focused on placing and more centered around best times. Who cares if your kid can beat mine. No one should. I cringe when I see a kid look immediately to another lane at the end of a race to see if they beat someone. Look at the clock, this is about beating yourself.
Grace has a friend who she has traded races with for a few years now. They toggle back and forth on some strokes, one beats the other in others. And then there is breast stroke. Anyways, her mother and I love it when the kids swim in the same heat at meets (as they often do). We KNOW they will both get best times. They love to compete against each other but they both feel like winners with best times.
Right now her kid IS faster than mine. I like it better when this is the case, it motivates Grace to try harder in practice. She wants to hit those same times. I wish my kids had more friends like this. Can I get friendly competitors on ebay?
I often joke about Grace’s breaststroke but it is actually getting pretty decent. I have an obnoxious mom to thank for this. A summer ago she saw Grace’s time and told her daughter, looky here, you are faster than Grace in breast stoke. Guess whose mom was standing right behind her? I looked and Grace’s time was from time trials two summers before. For giggles I entered her in it at the next meet and she did fair decent. She clobbered the other kid. She now swims it at almost every meet and is getting much better. Ok, so I am not perfect, I enjoyed my “take that you stupid mom” moment.
A very humbling experience is to find your childs national ranking through USA Swimming. There are 4000 or so 12 year olds faster than Grace in her best event. Should we quit trying? I don’t care if that number never changes, I just want to see consistant time drops over a period of time.