Archive for October, 2008

Ignore the Noise: The Early Years

Posted in For Parents on October 8, 2008 by comereadyorneverstart

Ignore the Noise
1st – 4th Grades


The dictionary defines it as, “a nonharmonious or discordant group of sounds.”

Our friends at Wikipedia add, ” In common use, the word noise means unwanted sound or noise pollution.”

Noise is everywhere in youth sports-coaches barking instructions; teammates encouraging; opponents discouraging;  parents encouraging (and discouraging); and fans cheering.

In my Come Ready Or Never Start mentality system, I define noise as any negative feedback or negative chatter that discourages youngsters to strive to get better, reach their potential and achieve their goals-no matter how realistic or unrealistic these goals may be. 

And I’m sorry to say that in youth sports today, the noise seems to be in SurroundSound®, there’s so much of it.  It comes from immediate family, relatives, friends, teachers and coaches.  It’s most basic form:  “You can’t do that.”

Parents can create Noise when they don’t even know it.

“I want to be a professional tennis player when I grow up.” 

“Don’t be silly, only a few kids out of thousands will be good enough to play professionally.” (Imagine if Roger Federer’s father told him that.)

“I’d like to grow up to be a doctor.” 

“You gotta be really, really smart to be a doctor and besides, we’ll never have enough money to send you to medical school.”

Ignoring the Noise is an action in the Come Ready Or Never Start philosophy that  young athletes learn to do in order to better focus on getting better and reaching their athletic goals. 

As kids begin in sports participation at these young ages their emotional development and maturity levels have not reached the stage where they can be taught how to ignore the noise.   That’s why parents have to take the lead and be proactive in minimizing the noise and maximizing the positive and encouraging chatter.  In addition, they need to start reinforcing the Come Ready Or Never Start mentality that speaks to goals and dreams:

“You can do grow up to be anything you want to be.”

  • “You can do anything you want to do in life.”
  • “Don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t do something.”

These are life philosophies but the Come Ready Or Never Start mindset extends them to youngsters just beginning to enjoy organized sports.  Many youngsters begin playing soccer, baseball, softball, basketball etc. recreationally and discover they very much enjoy the activity.  As they progress they may begin to form goals– both realistic and unrealistic-that may go beyond the foremost goal of just having fun: 

  • I’d like to start.”
  • “I’d like to make the travel team.”
  • “I’d like to grow up and play in the World Cup.”

In each case there is the potential of the parent to create noise-negative or discouraging feedback:

  • Don’t worry if you’re not good enough to start, you’ll get your playing time.”
  • “The travel team is just for the really, really good players.”
  • “You’re not even the best player on your team.”

Coming from the people who they trust the most, this noise is too hard for youngsters to ignore at this age.  So it is up to the parents to eliminate the noise in the first place and be positive and encouraging:

  • “That’s great you’d like to start, let’s ask the coach what you need to work on.”
  • “Sure, it would be a good experience for you to try out for the travel team and see how good you are compared to the other players.”
  • “You have to remember that these players work really, really hard, so if you’re prepared to do that, maybe you’ll play on the World Cup team someday.” 

Staying positive and not creating noise should be your goal as a parent no matter what the skill level.  If you’ve been involved in youth sports you’ve seen the disparity in athletic talent starting out-the naturally athletical kids and the kids who don’t have that natural ability.  Sometimes it’s those athletic kids who hear the most noise from their parents or coaches, because the expectations are higher.  Instead of positive words of encouragement for a job well done, they hear the noise of a parent questioning why they didn’t do better.  For the youngsters who may be clumsy or not as skilled, instead of positive words of how they can work on improving, they may hear the noise of a parent saying maybe they’re just not good enough to enjoy the sport.  

The chances of your child growing up to be a professional athlete…or an astronaut, may be slim.  But if you’re causing noise by telling them they can’t do it, you’re telling them that certain things in life are unattainable. 

That’s negative.  That’s noise. 

And I don’t believe it.

It’s all about nurturing their belief in their potential.  Explaining that they have a lot of time ahead in their lives to reach their athletic goals.  And even if their skill level at this young age is not advanced, that many successful athletes started exactly the same way-slowly– but worked hard to reach their goals.



Setting Expectations: The Early Years

Posted in For Parents on October 8, 2008 by comereadyorneverstart

Setting Expectations:  The Early Years
(Grades 1 – 4)

The Come Ready or Never Start philosophy for guiding your child through his or her youth sports participation emphasizes laying the proper foundation for these activities by setting the appropriate expectations for this beneficial experience.    

When your child is first exposed to the opportunity to take part in organized sports, it is important for the parent to explore why they want to participate.  You must do a little probing to find what their motivations and level of interest really are.  Is it something they want to do because their friends are involved?  Is it something they are doing to please you?  (I hope not!)   Have they seen the sport on TV or exposed to it at school and thought it would be fun?   Is it the chance to get out of the house and be active that appeals to them?  Do they want to grow up to be a professional athlete?   From there, the proper expectations can be set, based on their answers.

 At this age I like to break down their interest into three levels:

There should be a different set of expectations based on each level of interest.  And I want to make it perfectly clear that no interest level is intrinsically better than any other.  At each level the child can enjoy the benefits of sport participation.

A passive interest means that children are participating in organized sport just because it’s fun for them-something to get them out of the house.  They enjoy being with their friends.  The games are not more important than practice because they don’t view competition (winning and losing) as important.  They’re out there to get exercise and enjoy the feeling of being active.

They can still benefit from many of the intrinsic values that lie in sport participation.  Expectations should center on:

  • Practicing good sportsmanship
  • Learning and following team and sport rules
  • Being on time to practices and games
  • Doing the best they can, giving 100% effort
  • How to overcome adversity (i.e. getting knocked down and getting right back up)
  • Listening to their coaches and respecting their authority
  • Learning to interact with children in a team situation that may be different from them-either by skill level or personality
  • Learning what it means to work for a goal within a team concept

Please note:  You don’t see any expectation set around winning or losing, or individual accomplishment.  They are not ready for these expectations yet based on their interest level.

A moderate interest means that your child wants to win and specifically desires to advance his skills, but it is not an all encompassing concern for them. 

If your child falls into this category expectations can be added that address performance.  Expectations should still include the ones addressing the basic values that sport can teach mentioned above.  But the emphasis should be on setting expectations that begin to address how they can become better skilled at the sport and help their team succeed.

  • Learning that they won’t win every game and that’s not important because the goal is to just do their best to help the team win
  • Reinforcing the expectation that practice is the only way they’ll get better
  • Setting an expectation for them to find out from their coaches how they can improve

An extreme interest  means that the child takes every game seriously.  They already have a competitive drive fueled by beating the other team.   Many are more naturally gifted than their teammates.  Some have trouble tolerating teammates with lesser skill levels. Mood swings may follow times when they haven’t had a good game.  Expectations should center on the healthy aspects of competition, realistic expectations of performance and skill improvement and how they can help make their team better.

  • A greater emphasis on setting an expectation that it’s not about winning and losing, but about getting better
  • An expectation that practice is still vitally important
  • An expectation that being more skilled doesn’t mean they should display any less effort
  • The need to set an example for teammates-both in practice and during the games
  • Helping other players become better
  • Knowing that they will have both good games and bad games and how to deal with each

Setting, discussing and reinforcing these expectations with your child is all about communication.  Communication prior to signing up for the activity and after the sports participation is over.  What were the child’s expectations prior to signing up?  How were those expectations met after the season has been completed?   Communication immediately prior to and after practices and games-outlining what his or her expectations are; suggestions on what they should be; and discussing how they were met and can be better fulfilled at the next practice or game.   Sure it’s important to find out if they had fun.   But don’t ignore other kinds of expectations that should be an integral part of their sport participation.  It’s about parents having the discipline to proactively address these issues with their children and not relying on the coaches.  It’s about parents suing the Come Ready or Never Start to help their children set proper expectations.


Putting Youth Sports in Perspective: The Early Years

Posted in For Parents on October 8, 2008 by comereadyorneverstart

Getting Started In Youth Sports–The Proper Perspective
(Grades 1 – 4)

The foundation of the Come Ready or Never Start philosophy as it pertains to youngsters initially becoming involved in organized sports is that the child must have a legitimate desire to participate.   There is little benefit to organized sports if the participation is pushed upon the child by the parents. 

Participation that is parent-driven instead of child-driven compromises the self-motivational drive that is at the foundation of the Come Ready or Never Start mentality.  Kids should be participating because they want to-not because they feel they need to please their parents.   There are responsibilities involved in participation:

  • Going to practice
  • Practicing at home
  • Following the rules
  • Working hard in practice
  • Playing hard in the games
  • Practicing good sportsmanship
  • Respecting your teammate and coaches

The goal is for the child to internalize and adhere to these responsibilities through self-motivation, not because they fear the consequences from mommy or daddy if they do not.

Are you there to tell your children what their interests are…or should be?  Or do you want your children to tell you?   Offering guidance in choosing what activities a child may pursue is certainly a parental responsibility.  But this guidance must be suggestive, not demanding. 

That said, I am a firm believer in having the parents encouraging and suggesting their child to play organized sports if they feel there is a slight bit of interest displayed by the child. They can do so by creating a positive mindset for the child, emphasizing that it’s all about having fun:

  • “Don’t you want to get out and play with your friends?”
  • “How would you like to be part of a team and get a uniform?”

And if you’re suggesting, make sure you’re fully aware of why and take that into consideration in establishing goals and in guiding your child’s participation.  Make a list and put on the refrigerator to see before each practice and game.  At the beginner’s level, the primary reasons for participation should be:

  • The chance to be active and enjoy physical activity
  • The opportunity to be a part of a team
  • Learning how to deal with adversity (You get knocked down, you get right back up.)
  • The chance to set goals and strive for them
  • Learning the value of working hard (while having fun) during practice and hustling and give 100% during the games.

If these are your motivations-and they should be-make sure you keep them in consideration in the interaction with your child-before and during the games.

Prior to the game

You have a big game tomorrow that your team needs to win.  Make sure you don’t let anybody down.”

That kind of ‘encouragement’ adds pressure…and where does ‘not letting people down’ appear in the goals I’ve listed above?

I much rather prefer, “Let’s go out and hustle tomorrow.  Remember what our goals are-having fun, playing hard and trying to be just a little bit better than you were last week.  If your team wins, that’s great.  But that’s not as important as you doing the best you can.”

During the game

Where does screaming at your child during a game fit into the goals of participation I’ve listed previously.  It doesn’t.  I’ll tell you straight up-you’re embarrassing yourself, your child and your family.  Screaming at a child will not improve his performance and probably hinder it.  (Do you do your best work on the job when someone is always on your behind?)  Remember, the goal is to make this a positive experience no matter how your child’s  team is performing.  Cheering and positive reinforcement at times helps achieve that goal, but I’m not a big fan of a lot of that during a game.  Save it for afterward.

Parents need to play a proactive role in creating a positive environment.   Many times you cannot control the aptitude of the coach.  (And you’ll experience good ones and bad ones at the introductory level.)  But the coach is interacting with your child maybe 2-3 times per week for a couple of hours.  You are the influential one in their lives-there for them 24/7.   It is your responsibility to do all you can to make sure this participation is fun for them, while instilling in them the value of being a part of a team and being a good team member.

Now, I know parents and how hard sometimes it is to put things in perspective.  We all enjoy living through our children, no matter how questionable that motivation is.  But parents need to remember that along with their children having responsibilities in participating in youth sports, the parents themselves must take on the responsibility of doing what they can to put that participation in the proper perspective-the objective being to allow the child to truly enjoy all aspects of the experience so they have fun while learning the values of competition.


Come Ready Or Never Start

Posted in For Parents on October 8, 2008 by comereadyorneverstart







5 simple words.

Taken separately there is nothing special about any of them.  

But bundle them together in a simple and succinct declaration…and they define an attitude…a way of life.

Come Ready Or Never Start.

It’s a simple yet powerful mentality that I feel allows individuals of all ages to best reach their full potential and  achieve their goals in life.

My name is Pat Cavanaugh, founder of the Come Ready Or Never StartTM mentality system that I strongly believe can positively affect the lives of young people. 

It did mine–allowing me to  achieve athletic and life goals that most people thought were not possible.

The purpose of this blog is to show you how the Come Ready Or Never StartTM philosophy can greatly assist both kids and their parents experience the full potential that youth and interscholastic sports has to offer. 

I am a strong believer that sport participation by young people can teach kids life lessons that will allow them to succeed to their fullest abilities-both in athletics, in school and with their eventual adult careers. 

But I also firmly feel that parents can use the Come Ready Or Never StartTM mentality system to help their children best experience the fullest joy of athletic participation. It will also be providing guidance so that athletics can properly teach their children the values and attitudes they will need to best succeed in both sports and school.

Since its inception the Come Ready Or Never StartTM philosophy has been a powerful motivator to athletes of all ages.  It spawned a performance apparel brand-Crons® ( ) – specializing in athletic gear that champions the mentality that it takes to be successful. 

It is my goal with this blog to show how the Come Ready or Never Start  mentality system can guide both children and their parents so they can work together to make the experience of athletics be a powerful and meaningful one in their lives-both as a builder of character and a way of achieving life goals that they may have thought out of reach.