What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Youth Athlete

It’s the MOJO guide to this wild, wonderful chapter of family life: youth sports

Team MOJO

| 4 min read

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Chances are you read a pregnancy book or two when your firstborn was in utero. You wondered if this symptom was normal or if that test result was anything to worry about.  After they were born, every unexpected cry, fever or rash was enough to send you straight down a Google rabbit hole.

Of course you were hungry for advice, information and authentic stories. You’d never been a parent before. You were looking for a guide, anything that would make you feel like everything’s going to be OK.

So, if you’re here, reading this, you did it: Your newborn is now officially a kid, with a personality and spirit all his own. He’s playing organized sports — soccer! — for the first time. Maybe you’re his coach. Maybe you’re watching from the sidelines. Maybe you’ve got questions.

This is where MOJO comes in. 

MOJO is taking a page out of all those parenting books that are now gathering dust in your garage. We know you need a trusted week-by-week, season-by-season guide through this fleeting window of youth sports, whether you’re a volunteer coach or the parent of a fledgling athlete. 

So, we made one. 

We’ve been on the field. We know the stress, aggravation and intimidation of coaching. And we also know kids — at least, the seasoned coaches, sports psychologists, pediatricians and kinesiologists we consulted do.

Each kid, each family, is unique. But the path is familiar — even predictable.

And one thing we know for sure? Children are not miniature adults.

Dr. Jenny Etnier, author of Coaching for the Love of the Game, and co-chair of MOJO’s Academic Advisory Board, puts it this way: “They do not think like adults, they do not move like adults, they do not learn like adults and they do not judge their own success like adults.”

When they’re 4 and 5, says Etnier, they can walk, talk or chew gum — not all three. The fundamental skills they need for sports — and life — are still developing. 

When they’re 8 or 9, some still look like 5-year-olds — big head, skinny limbs — while some will read as 11, even 12. 

When they’re 12, there’s always that one — 5’ 6” and close to 200 pounds, or the girl who has developed early. 

And at 13, 14, you are likely outsized and outwitted and perhaps out-mustached. It’s humbling. We get it.

And you, Coach, you’re growing, too. You’ve gone from raising your own child — which, kudos, is its own triumph — to leading a pack of unruly second graders or blasé middle schoolers. 

You’ll need to learn totally new communication, interpersonal and leadership skills. You might find yourself moonlighting as a motivational speaker, a therapist, an amateur Disney character or surrogate parent. And you’ll grapple with the profound responsibility of being an influential adult in the lives of the kids on your team.  

Just like all the differing philosophies in those old parenting books, MOJO has its own POV:

  • We are developmentally-appropriate and child-centered.
  • We believe in the power of positive feedback. 
  • We believe that empathy belongs on the field. 
  • And most of all — we believe in play. 

One of MOJO’s core values is that we are young at heart. We still know what it’s like to see the world through a child’s eyes — and that’s how we know what’s fun.

The MOJO guide will give you the skills — soccer skills, soft skills, even “dad” jokes — that will help you make this period of life rich, rewarding and full of smiles. 

We’re aiming for 20, 30 smiles per hour, maybe more.

And unlike a physical book, trapped in time, MOJO is constantly updating its platform with new ideas, new games, new activities, new inspiration and new research. 

Consider MOJO What to Expect When You’re Expecting for youth sports in the 21st century — just with a shorter name.

 

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