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Adult Personalities In Youth Sports

Posted Oct 20 2009 10:02pm

Purely_Personalities column
Any of us with children have probably experienced youth sports whether in the form of watching our kids skillfully playing with balls, running around a track or across the terrain around town, or going "hand-to-hand" trying to pin their wrestling opponent to the mat. Not only is youth sports a great place to watch our young athletes, it is also a very interesting place to observe personalities in the bleachers and on the sidelines.


Alycia - sportsSanguine adults affiliated with youth sports are usually team cheerleaders. They tend to be the ones yelling an encouraging word to the team, or the occasional (sometimes frequent) ugly epithet at the umpire or referee. They often show up brightly decorated in the team colors or jerseys that let the entire world know which athlete/team they belong to. You know they are really sanguine if they accent their team attire with giant bows in their hair, like my niece Alycia (left with her little brother).

These same adults often make great coaches because they are so fun. They tend to joke with their athletes, display an enthusiastic and upbeat attitude, plus they seldom yell. However, one weakness in many sanguine coaches is that they may not be as serious as their more competitive team members and parents.

During my boys' youth sport careers, one baseball coach stands out. She coached my youngest son in Little League Baseball and the boys all loved her. She was full of knowledge, but more than anything, she was fun, fun, fun! What eleven-year-old baseball team wouldn't love a reprieve of unlimited paintball games between games at the state Little League tournament? They may have lost the tourney, but Eric still talks about those hours of paintball courtesy of their sanguine (and generous) coach.


Choleric spotsCholeric parents are usually easy to identify; they are very concerned and interested in their son or daughter's performance. They often pace the gym floor or the sides of a field grimacing while coaching their child, or throwing their hands up when someone makes a mistake, be it an athlete or game official. More subdued parents can be observed raising their eyebrows when the choleric parent's antics get out of hand. Choleric personalities tend to be the most intense in the sporting world.

However, choleric coaches operating in their strengths are wonderful assets to developing children. If they enjoy a sport they are generally very knowledgeable. They are usually a wealth of instruction and technique which helps young athletes excel. Choleric coaches often walk the line of effective coaching and making their charges miserable. However, they can really motivate their team if they don't intimidate or scare them to death.

I remember a high-school baseball coach my oldest son experienced. Despite knowing the game, he was so negative that all the boys had a difficult time performing because they knew the coach would yell at them if they made a mistake. He cussed at them, and many boys quit the program after just one year with this coach who chose to operate in his choleric weaknesses. However, I've also seen choleric coaches lead their teams to championship titles. It just depends on the individual and how they decide to use their natural ability to lead.


Melancholy sports Honestly, I have not observed too many melancholy personalities while participating in my sons' youth sport's careers. It probably isn't because they are not there; they are probably so well mannered and proper that they don't stand out. However, on the occasions I do observe them, they are usually keeping the score books and making sure all the administrative components associated with a team are done in an organized manner. Melancholy moms tend to initiate the things that make the young athletes feel special such as organizing snack schedules and end-of-the-season banquets (although the sanguine mom is usually happy to jump in and help).

Melancholy coaches tend to stress technique and are not as animated as the fun-loving sanguine or as competitive as a choleric coach. If their team is not performing up to their ability, they usually don't yell or get scary, but a calm demeanor when they should blow up, can be just as disconcerting. A weakness that sometimes plagues a melancholy coach is their natural propensity to be critical or too much of a perfectionist.


Phleg sportsPhlegmatic adults in the wide-world of sports tend to be very quiet spectators who, to the best of their ability, try to make themselves comfortable on the bleachers. Unlike the sanguine spectator who whoops 'n hollers for every athlete on both teams, the phlegmatic parent hardly makes a peep even when their child is in the middle of the action. They are happy to sit back and watch others do all the work. They tend to be the most poker-faced of all the sport parents because their demeanor is fairly constant whether their child makes the game-saving or game-losing play. A weakness that sometimes follows this low-keyed spectator is looking like they don't care. This becomes a weakness if a children doesn't think Mom and Dad enjoy the game or want to watch to them.

Phlegmatic parent's seldom volunteer to be a head coach, but will step up if there is no one who will and the kids risk not being able to play. When my youngest son was in kindergarten there were enough children to make a soccer team, but no one would volunteer to coach. Despite my total lack of knowledge, I stepped up so the kids could have a team. Thankfully, a fun-loving sanguine offered to help and she knew all about soccer. We made a great team; I fronted the team and she ran practices while I assisted. We might not have been the most competitive team in the league, but we had a blast and years later one of the parents told me how much her un-athletic, flower-picking daughter loved playing on our team. The daughter played soccer again the next year but quit because her new coaches weren't as fun and laid back as my  assistant and me the year before.

The Personalities are everywhere, even in youth sports. Any one operating in his or her strengths makes a wonderful spectator or coach. However, as with all aspects of life, weaknesses will creep out from time to time. Unfortunately, because of the visibility of sports, spectators and coaches operating in their weaknesses tend to stand out. There was a time I would not sit in the bleachers because of how the spectators from my own team would act; I was embarrassed to be associated with them.

So, as you engage in youth sports with the children in your life, strive to operate in your strengths so you will be a shining representative of your youth sport's organization and our loving God.

Shona writer's page

(c)2009 Shona Neff

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