Donna Fishter on Parents Ensuring Players Have A Strong Authentic Identity to Support their Performance Identity - Soccer Parenting
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Donna Fishter on Parents Ensuring Players Have A Strong Authentic Identity to Support their Performance Identity

I received so many texts and DM's and emails from parents after this Donna Fishter webinar earlier this week thanking me for the conversation and with messages of gratitude for the topics we covered.  This is a 12 minute clip of the 65 minute interview where we discuss IDENTITY - and what our role is as parents in helping out children develop a strong authentic identity to best support their performance identity.  As you will hear - this is not easy! 

If you'd like to listen to the entire interview, you can find it in the library at the SoccerParentResourceCenter.com (membership required).  

ENJOY!!!!

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TRANSCRIPT:


Donna:
If I've got a college player that is not giving 100%, it's because... Why do you not care about yourself enough to give everything? And so, I mean, that can rewind to so many different things.

Skye:
Yeah. Well, what does that rewind to? I'm actually really interested in that, because I think that's kind of where we need to start. So, as a parent of a youth player, what lessons do we need to be imparting in our children at these really young ages, as they're identifying themselves or at developing their identity, so that they do value themselves enough, so that this is about them just being their best? If you could pull those layers back, what would be the things you tell us parents, now?

Donna:
Their performance is tied to their self-worth and that begins way before they get to college, or way before they get to the older levels of youth. They're defining themselves as a soccer player, as a basketball player, as their sport. And their performance... If they have a bad day, they're sort of taking that on as that is them. And so, I teach this concept of, you have your authentic self and your performance self. I mean, I've taught this to players, 11, 12-years-old. And so, if you think about a wagon wheel, the old-west wagon wheel?

Skye:
Mm-hmm.

Donna:
The center, the hub, if you take that out and it's missing, what's going to happen to the wheel? It's eventually going to become inefficient and it's going to collapse on itself, right? The hub is everything. And so, that is your authentic self, who you are. Who you are as a person. Your meaning as a human being, your significance, those unchanging character traits about you that are thread through everything in your life, your value. That, nobody can touch. Your self-worth is sort of housed, I say, in your authentic self. And so that has to be rock solid in understanding there. And so your performance then is the outer part of the wheel of the wagon wheel.

And so the authentic self basically, a person's self worth holds everything. Their meaning, significance. And their performance self, that's what they do. The practice is what they do. The kicking the ball and scoring or not, or juggling. That's what they do. Who they are is something totally different. And so they need to understand that for themselves. But I think we as coaches and as parents, we need to be able to separate those two also. So let me get back though to your original question, sort of the struggle. So I'm seeing players that are defined by their performance, and we need to speak to that. Comparison. Comparison is huge. I'm talking about that everywhere Skye, everywhere.

Skye:
A player saying, "I worked harder than them so I should be playing." Or, "I feel like I'm a better player than her. Why is she getting or him," is that what you're talking about when you're talking about comparison?

Donna:
Yeah, it's that. It's, "Why can't I be like so-and-so?" How about parents saying to their child, "You need to be scoring like so-and-so."

Skye:
Yeah.

Donna:
Oh, wait a minute. Pump the brakes. Okay. So what's happening right there? It might be a true statement, but you've just painted a broad stroke of comparison. And so now, at a deeper level is that player thinking, "Okay, so my parent wants me to score so-and-so, then if I don't, does that mean what? Does that mean I'm not any good?" So, the comparison goes into this also is some... I mean, I'm sorry. Well, I'm not sorry because I haven't done anything wrong. So this is going to be hard to hear. But not everybody is a superstar. On a team, there are going to be players that are better than others. And so, if I've got players that are comparing themselves to others, I mean it's genetics maybe, speed. There are things that it's pointless to waste energy on comparison because that other person is that much more talented or is just crazy athletic and you just don't have those qualities. And so, if I spend my time and energy comparing myself with them, well then I'm not using that time and energy and emotional energy on just being the best version of myself.

Skye:
Yeah, exactly. I think there's something deeper there that maybe we can, and I want to keep focused on the question that we're answering, but I think there's something deeper there also. Every kid has a certain mentality towards sport. That's what I say to parents all the time. Your job is to find the right environment based on your child's athleticism and their mentality to a sport. Not every kid is going to aspire to play at a top level. And that's okay. I think that's sort of part of the comparison thing that often gets into this is that we get all these kids on a top team, let's say, or even now, the team that I'm coaching, this U10 girls team, there's like six or seven of these girls of the 10 that are playing foots all the time. They're doing this, they're doing this, they just can't get enough of it. And that's great. And then there's three or four that aren't there, and that's great too.

Donna:
That's fine.

Skye:
But we can't all expect to go on that same path. So is that something that you relate to or that you think-

Donna:
Yeah, I mean, you can't force a kid to do something they don't want to do or to aspire to be something that they don't want to be. You have to let them discover it on their own. Now, the thing that I thought of when you're talking was, "Okay, another layer deeper, parent, are you on the sideline wanting to be able to say, 'My kid scored the goal. My kid is playing for this level team, she's committed to this level of school.'" I mean, absolutely you're proud of your kids, but if that's not your player, don't force them into that. Because you're setting them up for failure potentially, right?

Skye:
Yeah.

Donna:
I think there's this piece that parents are wanting more for their child and it's really about them. Not about their kid. Does that make sense?

Skye:
Yeah.

Donna:
So the phrase used a lot is living through your kid and I think people just sort of dismiss that sometimes. But I think there's something there. I think sometimes we just have to check ourselves and sit on the park bench, I call it. And think, "Okay, am I wanting this for my child because I want to be able to talk about it and highlight it and be like, 'Oh wow.' Your child's doing this. Or is it really about the player?"

Skye:
Yeah, I hear people say that a lot and I often feel like I need to defend parents when people say that because-

Donna:
Yeah, let's talk.

Skye:
I do believe that most of us aren't wanting to live vicariously through our children. I mean, there are parents, crazy parents, those are the ones that I call the crazy parents that do that. But there's a whole nother layer to this Donna, and that is parents like me who were really confused along the way between really wanting our child to be the best versions of themselves and understanding what that really means for our child. And so, I will say and share that was a hard thing for me to understand about my daughter. Not because I was intentionally comparing her to anybody. Not because I wanted to live vicariously through her or for her to have this amazing soccer career. Really, it's hard being a parent and trying to understand where that balance is between letting your child develop their identity and be themselves and find themselves so that they have a really strong sense of self-worth and understanding about who they are athletically as well, while at the same time trying to support them and helping them be that. So it's a hard balance.

Donna:
I'm with you. I mean-

Skye:
I know you are.

Donna:
I get it. I'm just sort of throwing things out that I think people just... You want to think about.

Skye:
Yeah.

Donna:
I mean, I'm not casting blame. I'm not any of that.

Skye:
I don't feel like you are. I do feel like there's that layer there that often gets talked about, like those crazy ones and what I-

Donna:
Stereotypes.

Skye:
Yeah, but what I want to start talking about is those of us that are really trying and we just can't, are struggling to, as Catherine just chimed in. She said, "Thank you for bringing up the point about balance. I struggle with that as well." It's hard to say and push your child, if they're saying they have a goal or something, to help them find and aspire to that, where at the same time just letting them be themselves. And I love your point about their athletic self, or what did you call it?

Donna:
Authentic self and performance self.

Skye:
As a parent, we just need to be supporting our child in, I think the middle of that wagon wheel. That's our real job, is the middle right there?

Donna:
Yes.

 

 

About the Author Skye Eddy

Founder, SoccerParenting.com Skye is a former All-American goalkeeper, professional player and collegiate coach. She holds her USSF “B” License and USSF National Goalkeeper License and is an active youth coach, soccer parent and coach educator.

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