The Joy & Struggles of Youth Sports

Imagine watching your favorite athlete compete, but instead of jumping up and cheering as loud as you can, you have to sit quietly and keep your composure. No pressure valve. No clapping. (Ok, maybe soft clapping.) This is how we watch our daughter Lola play tennis. It drives me crazy. A tennis meet is similar to golf. There are a lot of other players competing all around you and you have to be respectful not to disturb them. Penn can’t drink too much coffee on the days of her games, or else he begins pacing because he can’t contain himself. 

We used to ask ourselves, “I wonder where all the ‘crazy’ sports parents are.” Until we realized, oh it’s us. We are those crazy sports parents who can barely contain themselves. How the heck did we get here? As our kids are getting older, we want to know the best way to support their athletic goals without pushing too hard. This week on the podcast, we spoke with licensed marriage and family therapist, Nina Westbrook, about the balance, the joy, and the struggles of competing in youth sports. 

Always Have A Plan B

In the episode, Nina shares her first-hand experience working her way up to NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball at UCLA. Nina’s self-described personality of ‘level and reasonable’ put her on a path after basketball to study psychology. She shares how we as parents can help navigate our kids through sports, other interests, and mental well-being.  

Nina believes in making sure student-athletes are well-rounded people who create backup plans and explore all areas of their interests. It’s important for athletes to differentiate who they are from what they do. (This is great life advice for everyone.) Nina is dedicated to inspiring mental health, interpersonal growth, and self-connection. She has useful tools designed to cultivate a sense of well-being in every area of life, you can find on her website here.

Listen to the show and tell us how you achieve balance with your student-athlete! (Also enjoy Penn geeking out about Nina’s husband, Russell Westbrook. I lost count of how many times he said the phrase “perfect specimen”.)