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Raising Winners: A Parent's Guide to Helping Kids Succeed On and Off the Playing Field

Raising Winners: A Parent's Guide to Helping Kids Succeed On and Off the Playing Field

by Shari Young Kuchenbecker Ph.D., Shari Young Kuchenbecker
Whether your child is a casual joiner or a serious athlete, the playing field is a terrific place to learn confidence, sportsmanship, and other skills he or she will need to succeed in life. This comprehensive guide from sports psychologist Dr. Shari Kuchenbecker distills decades of sports research and the author's own experiences as a "soccer mom, volleyball mom,


Whether your child is a casual joiner or a serious athlete, the playing field is a terrific place to learn confidence, sportsmanship, and other skills he or she will need to succeed in life. This comprehensive guide from sports psychologist Dr. Shari Kuchenbecker distills decades of sports research and the author's own experiences as a "soccer mom, volleyball mom, Little League mom, and basketball mom" to create an indispensable guide to children's development through sports. Topics include how to:

  • Choose the right sport for kids—and when they should start
  • Support a good coach and deal with a bad one
  • Keep kids motivated
  • Help kids eat right
  • Screen an injury
  • Encourage girls in sports
  • Deal with quitting, stalling, and burnout
  • Get athletic scholarships
  • and more

Editorial Reviews

A self-proclaimed soccer mom and veteran of many seasons of Little League, summer basketball camps, and swim meets, Kuchenbecker is an experienced source for information about children and athletics. Add to these qualities her own lifelong participation in athletics, her doctorate degree in child development, and her decades of training in sports psychology, and the author becomes an expert in the always exciting and sometimes challenging world of sports for youth. This book is not just a training manual for improving batting averages, decreasing sprint times, or increasing defensive maneuvers, but it is also a guide for parents, coaches, and athletes interested in the whole person. Included are topics that apply to the beginning child athlete as well as to the serious player looking for a college scholarship. The first several chapters are devoted to finding the appropriate sport for a youngster and to instructing children in how to approach athletics in a healthy and positive way. Subsequent chapters discuss training techniques, sports nutrition, injury management, and motivation. Final chapters involve topics such as motivating girls in sports, encouraging and maintaining athletes through college, and parents and coaches working together. Parents, coaches, and young athletes will appreciate the candid stories of both success and failure from young athletes and their parents. Personal accounts of overzealous training, burnout by age seven, and one mother's alienation of every coach her son ever had will serve as gentle reminders to everyone interested in helping their children succeed in their chosen sport. 2000, Random House, 332p, $15 Trade pb. Ages Adult. Reviewer: HeatherHepler

SOURCE: VOYA, December 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 5)

Product Details

Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.17(h) x 0.78(d)

Read an Excerpt

" I want my kid to be a winner! A champ. The best!"

Sound like you? Parents just like us fill baseball, soccer, football, and track fields, basketball and volleyball bleachers, ice rinks, gymnasiums, and tennis stands around the world. We all want the most for our children. We want them to be happy, successful, and, if they are in sports, we want them to be winners.

In reality, no one starts out as a winner in sports. Big doses of quality parenting and balanced development create winners. These things plus athletic potential, years of practice, lots of sweat, good coaching, and motivation nurture athletic success stories. How should you guide a young athlete? What are the important underpinnings of becoming a winner? How can you help your young child grow to fulfill his or her true potential?

Tough questions? Not really. Many parents may be surprised to learn that they already have the knowledge it takes to raise a child in athletics because quality parenting and quality athletic training have the same fundamental rules. Amazingly, some truly terrific parents leave their common sense at home when they walk out the door to drive their child to a game or practice. Some rationalize that harsh treatment is a necessary evil in sports. Others defer expertise by acknowledging that they were not athletes themselves. The fact of the matter is, harsh treatment is never necessary, and parents should have confidence in their common-sense knowledge and intuitive insight to their child's needs. Supporting a child in sports simply extends our ongoing quality parenting at home.

I've offered some common-sense guideposts for parents in the dynamic process of raising youngathletes in boxed sections entitled Tips. Most are simply reminders of what you already know; use these rules to help you in your day-to-day decision making. Of course, application of a rule takes your love, dynamic judgment, balance, and care.

TIP Trust what you know. Quality athletic training and quality parenting have the same fundamental rules.


I loved the uncomplicated way sports used to fill out our lives. About 4:00 P.M. in the afternoon, after walking home from school, having our snacks (Twinkies were fine in those days), doing our homework (we had a lot less then), and ten minutes of being underfoot, whoever was looking out for us would say, "Why don't you go outdoors and play?" The rest of the family wouldn't be home for a couple of hours and dinner wasn't until sunset, so the afternoon was ours for the taking.

We would trundle out into the streets from our various apartments and houses as if a silent whistle-heard only by the kids of the neighbor-hood- had convened our impromptu afternoon sports practice. Without much fanfare, the practice of the day was determined by the mood and equipment of our ragtag team. If someone had remembered to bring a bat and someone else had a ball, there you go, we played baseball. If a prized red rubber ball appeared, we played kickball or four square, but an open wall often made handball our afternoon choice. If someone brought skates-the old kind you strapped onto your not-so-good shoes and tightened with a key-we would all take a group temperature and trot back to get our skates, too. If no special sports gear appeared, no problem, we could play kick-the-Campbell's-Soup-can between gutter-to-gutter goals. A few kids with a creek or lake nearby had enviable afternoon practices skipping stones to leaf and twig targets across the water.

In the old days, the great athletes rose to the top of our catch-as-catch- can teams through talent, leadership, and regular four o'clock appearances. Some of the great stone skippers became pitchers. Some of the top swingers and climbers became gymnasts. Now, it takes a full-fledged sup-port system for a kid to participate in even one after-school activity- whether it be Little League, park recreation, or an elite club team. First, someone has to find out about it and sign the kid up in advance. Enrollment fees vary, ranging from $5 up to $3,500 per year for some club sports. Parents are lucky if they live within walking distance of practice and game sites. Most don't. Someone needs to drive the kid back and forth-five minutes or as much as three hours each way. Special equipment can be as simple as a pair of athletic shoes for blacktop basketball or as expensive as an entire ice hockey goalie getup costing $1,500 or more. Games themselves are another chauffeuring event, with game watching a major workout for some parents. In addition, parents are on call for snacks and water duty, not to mention the now-traditional season-end party celebrating the close of this often herculean family undertaking. With parents' busy work schedules and driving requirements, it comes as no surprise that many parents recoil and quit after only a season or two.

What People are Saying About This

John Wooden
Basketball Hall of Fame coach and player:

This book will help you make your youngster enjoy sports more while becoming a better athlete and make you a more understanding parent.

John Kessel
USA volleyball director:

Shari Kuchenbecker's parenting and psychology background is top notch. Parents in athletics need guidance. Raising Winners will offer that guidance.

Cathy Ferguson
Ed.D, Olympian and marketing director, American Youth Soccer Organization:

Raising Winners equips parents with valuable tools to understand experiences, face challenges, and increase enjoyment for all.

Dave Smith
editor, Dirk Butkus Football Network, Pop Warner Football:

A great supplement for parents who are new to sports or for the veteran parent who has been through the rigors of children in sports.

F. Patrick Escobar
Vice president, Amateur Athletic Foundation:

An excellent primer for parents who want to give their children the best experience in sports.

Kathy Smith
international fitness authority:

A must-read for any parent whose children are ready to participate in athletics...[and learn] the lessons about life -- team play, responsibility, inner strength, commitment, and sportsmanship.

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