One of the great things about being a parent is the fun you can have teaching your kids about what you know and enjoy. I love tennis, golf, photography photography, racquetball, fishing, swimming and chess. Like many fathers, when I became a dad, I was eager to share some of these interests with the kids.

Since I have coached hundreds of athletes from a wide range of sports, written articles on sport psychology and conducted seminars on improving one’s performance in sports, I could not wait until my kids got old enough for me to “impart some of my wisdom” to my offspring.

I took my son to the golf range when he was just two. I was amazed that the he could hit the ball pretty straight without any instruction from me.

He rarely missed the ball and it miraculously traveled twenty or thirty yards in the air. I asked him where he learned to do this. He said, “Daddy, I’ve seen Tiger

Woods on television lots of times.”

It is amazing how many kids can learn by simply imitating what they see on television. They act as if they are the sports star and they do what they see the expert do. Psychologists call this the “as if” principle.

Because my son seemed to show some innate ability for golf, the next time we went to the range, I started to give my boy a bit more instruction. I told him a little about the grip and the stance and the swing. I told him what I thought were a few simple things. After all, I didn’t want to overload him with information

As it turns out, I made a big mistake. He became a little frustrated with me and with golf. In fact, he did not want to go back to the range for some time.

Zachary was much happier when I let him place the ball on the tee and allowed him to experiment with the club and his own swing.

Once I realized that my son was not ready for technical instruction at such a young age, I developed a different approach to introducing him to sports.

I call this approach “the silent lesson.” It has worked well in baseball, basketball, racketball, tennis, chess and scrabble.

This technique is really simple. I give my son as little information as he needs to understand the game and some safety issues. Then I simply sit back, watch him and listen to him very carefully.

It is a great joy to watch any youngster chase a ball, run around and begin to create his or her own imaginary games. You can see what kinds of games he or
she likes.

My son invariably will ask his own questions when he wants some more help with the technical or mechanical aspects of the activity. And his questions and curiosity have increased as he has gotten older. This strategy seems to have worked pretty well. My boy is not the next Tiger

Woods or Alex Rodriguez, but he is close to his black belt in Karate and has won three consecutive baseball championships. At age ten, he can throw a baseball faster
and further than his old man can. He can also rip his backhand on the tennis court.

He can beat most adults at Scrabble.

When I relapse into my old ways when we are playing together, my son looks at me and says, “Dad, how about a silent lesson today?

I’m a little smarter now, so I shut my mouth and enjoy watching him as he playswith a big smile on his face.

For more tips on motivating your child, building his or her self-confidence and helping them to focus and enjoy sports, take a look at my Bedtime Stories For Young Athletes Program and the free book that comes with it.

Author's Bio: 

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., is The Founder of Dr. Granat is available for individual coaching and for seminars. He has developed many programs for elite athletes and for weekend warriors. He can be reached at or at 888 580-ZONE.