The Best Phrase to Inspire Young Athletes

Editor’s Note: This time around we are fortunate to have guest contributor Tom Krause, an international motivational speaker, share this piece on learning to love our young ones and properly expressing that love when they engage in a sport. Now that the kids are home for winter break, it’s the perfect time to gather them close and remind them of how much they are loved.

By Tom Krause,

If a job depends on the work of others, then you must inspire the work of others. The best way to inspire another person is to value their worth through words and deeds.

Researchers Bruce Brown and Rob Miller asked college athletes what their parents said that made them feel great and brought them joy when they played sports. Want to know the six words they most want to hear their parents say? The six words that inspire and motivate them the most?

“I love to watch you play.”

That’s it.

Nothing aggrandizing like “you’re an all-star” and nothing discouraging like “here are a couple of things I noticed that you can work on.”

Just “I love to watch you play.”

The best way to compliment a person you love is to tell them what their actions do for you personally. Telling someone about the joy you receive from watching them play makes them feel as if they are appreciated. It is more deeply felt by the recipient. Attaching an emotion to the compliment makes it more of a true personal feeling that one remembers over time. Calling someone “great” or an “all-star” is like pinning a blue ribbon on their chest. It is nice, but after a while it loses its meaningfulness because it is not personal. Like most blue ribbons, the compliment gets thrown into a box with all the others and is eventually lost.

By the same token, qualifying a compliment with “but here a couple things I noticed you can work on” is not a compliment at all. It is a criticism. There is no recognition of the person as a performer but solely as a performance that was not perfect. The feeling or opinions of the performer don’t matter. All that matters is the performance in the eye of the critic. Therefore the person has no personal worth.

If a job depends on the work of others, then you must inspire the work of others. The best way to inspire another person is to value their worth through words and deeds.

The next time you watch a young person play a sport, remember it is not the spectator who needs to feel good about the performance, it is the performer. We recognize great plays, but we must love the player more. Otherwise we raise a generation of people pleasers who can never really be fulfilled. Playing for the love of the game is much more enjoyable than playing for the approval of others.

If the performance of someone you love brought out a positive emotion in you, then let them know how it made you feel. If you were inspired, then say that. If you were excited, say that. If you appreciated their hustle or effort, say that. Children don’t need a ribbon on their chest to feel worth. What they need is someone who loves them for them.

Since 2001, Tom Krause’s reputation has continued to grow on the motivational speaking circuit. Tom currently presents for hundreds of clients nationwide and overseas. He is the author of Touching Hearts-Teaching Greatness, A Teen’s Guide to NOT Being Perfect, The Little Boy’s Smile and a contributing author to many books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series.

Photo: photostock


One comment

  1. Pingback: New This Month: Happy Holidays to Our Readers! | The Chelsea Foundation's Official Parenting Blog

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