This story is about a young teen age golfer who was playing in his club championship. His family belongs to a very exclusive country club. The level of competition for this championship is quite elite. Most of the golfers are at least a 2 or 3 handicap and there are more than one scratch golfer playing. Only the top sixteen qualify to play in the tournament. This young man had won the championship the year before as a seventeen year old and defending this prestigious championship “plate” was extremely difficult.

                 The three day tournament consisted of one 18 hole match the first day, two 18 hole matches the second day, provided you won the first, and then a 36 hole marathon on Sunday for the championship.
                The first day he was pitted against the sixteenth best player in the tournament as the defending champion. He won easily. The next day he had to play two matches, which were single elimination, eighteen holes a piece. The first match on the second day was not as easy. This opponent was a previous club champion. This is when it started to get interesting.  
                Understand that at this point the young man is feeling good about himself. His confidence is high. He and the caddy had played youth sports together (not golf) and you could see the bond and comfort level between the two. The golfer is kind of quiet and the caddy seems to be a very sociable kind of guy. He was an accomplished athlete in his own right playing two team sports at the varsity level in High School.
                 Two friends competing as a team, enjoying being together in a competitive environment. One, the caddy, in a supporting role, the other knowing full well the importance of feeling confident to play well, had entrusted his mental well being on the golf course to his friend and colleague based on the journey they had shared, and the friendship they had formed, while playing youth sports together.     There was a great balance between them and obvious trust, two key components in youth sports and life. It was a pleasure to watch. With no interference or micro managing, these two young men had figured out how to best approach this tournament by themselves, as they should.
                During the first day, the young man’s mom was in attendance and was quite cordial. She bought the caddie something to eat and drink, and was generally quiet an unassuming. Things changed drastically the second day as the competition rose. The mom was hovering. She was giving the young guy instructions about how to play. The further in to the tournament the more she interjected into the proceedings. She even started giving instructions to the caddy about what to say and do with her son on the golf course. She would tell the caddy to “help him finish his back swing.” She then commented about hydration, eating, and toweling off. You could see the caddy trying to be polite to the mom, all the while wanting to concentrate on helping his pal and friend stay focused. The first match on the second day ended in a victory.
Well since this match had ended in a victory the mom subconsciously thought that she needed to escalate her involvement in the second match that day. If it helped him win the first match, WHICH IT DIDN’T, then surely following the youth sports a mantra that more is better, she had better up the anty in this next match.
                The second match that day escalated or deteriorated depending on whose point of view you have, into a mother’s domination, a child’s frustration, and a total collapse of concentration and mechanics by this young man until he totally tuned her out, burned out, and lost.
                The match was tight. After they made the turn to go to the back nine, the men were tied. You could start to see cracks in the young man’s game.
                 I stop here to analyze and reveal to you exactly what happened behind the scenes that literally no one was aware of except maybe the caddy and the played, but neither was aware of what happened and its effect on them as I was. The constant interference by the well intentioned mom had started to distract this young man from concentrating on each shot. He needed to be in a relaxed state of mind so his muscles could execute their training over the years in a positive manner. But what happened was the pre frontal cortex started to but in and wreaks havoc. He couldn’t just play and enjoy the journey and the competition on his own and let his talents rule the day. Just like parents yelling at their child from the sidelines in a youth sports game, this mom hindered, not helped this young man. You could see the actual struggle play out in this young man’s mind on the golf course, His game fell apart and he lost.
                I have repeatedly stressed in my talks, the book I wrote on youth sports, and seminars I give, how important the mental aspect of youth sports are , and how valuable confidence, and positive reinforcement are to an athlete now and in the future. They are children, and no matter how much we wish and hope for them to do well, their lives are journey’s we can’t and shouldn’t try to control the outcome. That’s not competition but a new bizarre form of entitlement.
                Now, if you have been following my journey through youth sports, and have read my book you will know that I really truly do not believe that winning or losing this tournament was such a big deal. What I do believe strongly about is the young man’s future relationship with his mom, his friends, his future wife, business associates, and his children.
                 You may think that this is reach but I assure it is not. I have watched this scenario play out over and over again in many different sports with many different families and the outcome is almost always the same. With this caveat. Most parents and children fail to see the connection between what happened to them during their time associated with youth sports and the travails, failings of relationships and acrimony that manifests itself later in life with their parents and friends.
                 Now I am not saying all the problems facing people in the future are totally a product of youth sports and their involvement in it. But if you think about the time, importance, money, prestige, status, and angst you have seen attached to youth sports it becomes pretty clear that there is a strong influential connection.
                This young man was in tears after the loss. His mom felt terrible as she had THOUGHT she had done everything she could possibly do to help her son, when the best thing she could have done was to let him be. Cheer politely when he made a good shot and support him quietly when he did not. So when he butts in when his girlfriend is trying to do something, or at his job, or as a dad, or is surly at a family gathering, no one will remember and connect what happened that weekend and probably previous weekends to the problems he is having as an adult, well that is until now. NOW YOU KNOW!