Parents have good intentions when they pay their children to score points. They believe it will encourage them to work hard, score more and help the team win. But is it really good for the athlete or the team?
As a coach, and a player, I have seen what paying a child to score points can do to that child and the team. And I can tell you that none of it is good.
Pressure on the Athlete
Young athletes have to learn to play under pressure, but why add to the pressure. Kids already have enough to think about when they are playing.
An athlete has to run different offenses and defenses and take care of individual responsibilities on the court or field. They often think about non-sport-related issues, like their homework, a test that they have come the next day, or even a recruiter in the stands.
I’ve watched great players struggle with trying to be a team player while wanting to score their points, impress their parents and make money.
Why add more pressure? Just let young athletes play.
Athletes Can Lose Motivation
According to Psychology Today,
kids usually participate in sports because of an internal motivation to play for the fun of it. And when a material reward like money is introduced, it can lower their motivation in the long run.
When athletes play a sport because they love it, they are more likely to enjoy the experience, points or no points.
Ruins Team Mentality
This is a big one. Coaches work hard to get their players to play together and be unselfish on the court or playing field. When a player is only thinking about scoring more and making more money, it ruins the team mentality that coaches work to build.
When I was in high school, our point guard’s parents started paying her for points, and then soon after, she quit passing the ball. She was always looking to score, and our team began to struggle. There is nothing that hurts a team more than a ball hog.
Not everyone can be a scorer, and coaches work to share that message with the team. They emphasize defense, assists, rebounds, and even the role of bench players in the team’s success. And when a parent pays for points, it undercuts the focus on the team.
What About the Money?
If a parent (or grandparent) feels like they need to give their child money, it’s okay, but not as a payment for points. According to Psychology Today, as young athletes get older, sports often take up more of their time which keeps them from working a regular job, so this is a perfect time to give a supplemental allowance.
The athlete must understand that the money is not a bribe or a payment for points. It’s an allowance to help them since they are busy with sports.
What Can Parents Do To Encourage Their Kids?
Praise Your Kids For Effort
What did your child do to help the team? Be aware of other areas of the sport where your child is helping the team. Did they play tough defense? Did they work hard when they were in the game? They may not be scorers and that’s okay. Teams need role players, and they need athletes that have positive attitudes and work hard. Praise your child for their effort.
Talk To Your Kids
Love and support your kids and encourage them to be good team members. There are always ups and downs throughout a season, and young athletes may need to talk about what they are going through. Listen, stay positive and look at the overall picture in relation to the team.
Don’t pay your kids to score points. Instead, be there for them, talk to them, and help them understand the lesson that will benefit them the rest of their lives, the meaning of team.