Have you ever wondered what's going on inside your rodeo athlete's head. Here's a little insight from RodeoKids Ambassador and Team Leader, Kalli McCoy.
"I once heard a mom say, 'If you knock a barrel I'm leaving you here.' Which I'm sure was a joke, but as a kid I know they didn't hear that as a joke. That just adds another level of pressure that they're already putting on themselves." -Claire Powell
During our Leadership team’s weekly meeting Monday, we discussed the topic of “keeping it fun.” We all agreed that something we struggled with was putting too much pressure on ourselves. We also agreed that our parents were the most important part of maintaining that pressure and not letting it get to us. A make it or break it in rodeo is the relationships we build with those around us. Especially with our parents.
Our parents are with us through it all- good and bad. They’re the voice of reason when we want to throw our sucker in the dirt and pick a different sport after a bad weekend. They’re the ones holding our horse while we run up to take our picture with the giant cartoon check after a great weekend. They know us better than anyone and we trust them more than anyone. Which is why when they say something we take it to heart.
We’ve all seen that one parent at the junior rodeo that comes out of the alley way, box, or from behind the chute yelling at their kid because of a bad run. Everyone stares, and if that kid wasn’t already upset they are now. We know our parents want to see us succeed, but what good is beating down a kid’s confidence because they made a mistake?
A study published by The Journal of Child Development found that children faced with regular shouting incidents had an increase in stress levels, anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues. In short, yelling at your kid isn’t going to improve their athletic performance. If anything it is going to make them hate the sport they once loved and ruin their passion, confidence and mental health.
I personally put more pressure on myself than I know I should. It’s something that I’ve struggled with for a while. My parents are the ones that help me through it. Before some of my most high pressure runs my dad would tell me to just have fun and don’t overthink it. It's crazy how much that helped in the moment. He never added to the pressure. He supported me and let me know that he was there no matter the outcome. After my runs, my mom and I go back over the videos and see what went well and what I need to work on. She doesn’t degrade me because I hit a barrel. She builds my confidence. She listens when I’m upset and makes sure I still look at the positives of the run.
Both of my parents still disciplined me when I messed up, but they never made me feel like less of a person because of my failures. I know I will always be thankful for the way they raised me and how loved they make me feel. They show up to every basketball game, softball game, and track meet. They support me in everything I choose to do. Not once have they thrown a water bottle on the court or shouted at a bad ref.
Now, this is all coming from a sixteen year old who's experienced the struggles of growing up in today’s rodeo industry. The money is big and the pressure is bigger. Don’t lose sight of the goal of youth sports. Let your kids know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Tell them you're proud of them. They’ll remember how you treated them a lot more than they’ll remember that buckle they won when they were 15.