Play Like That
What we stand for
Play Like That is a simple phrase that quickly recognizes and reinforces a child's actions in a positive way. The story below is based on a true scenario that was the catalyst for the idea of play like that. We all want our children to excel in whatever it is that they participate in, whether it is sports or school or being a good friend. Sometimes good intentions can cause the opposite reaction. By over talking and over encouraging we end up hindering the child's ability to learn on their own as well as taking the fun out of the play.
Many times parents and coaches can give confusing messages through cheering and instructions; sometimes the sounds coming from the sidelines can sound aggressive and hurtful to both teams. We found that play like that, was an easy way to encourage the play of the player in the moment without a long winded explanation of why and how they did it. With a simple performance chart we have seen children improve their play and increase their desire to improve specific skills. We have seen teams who had given up on a season suddenly play cohesively like a team, each one trying their hardest throughout the entire game.
Play Like That has the capacity to help reset our priorities to our team, our families and our community and encourage our children, coaches, and parents to demonstrate that there is a right way to play and that it matters how you play.
"In our play, we reveal what kind of people we are."
--- Ovid - Roman poet
Play Like That
The clouds hung heavy and low with the sun slipping slowly below the horizon on a cold, gray autumn afternoon. Eighteen young boys were engaged in a soccer match, playing their hearts out on the pitted and worn pitch. Our sideline teemed with enthusiastic parents and family members cheering them on. But there was one voice that stood out above them all. One voice that seemed to want to will his son to be the best. His loud instructions and admonitions created a focus away from the boys' game. "Get him!", he yelled. "Take it back, that's your ball!", he admonished. "Finish it! Finish it!", he demanded. Unfortunately, there was no inspirational effect from the voice, just a feeling of intimidation and fear felt by the boy's on both sides. The ref had had enough and approached our coach. She warned that our team would be fined if the poor behavior continued. The voice went silent. Embarrassed, he drifted into the background. Silenced for now. The game resumed. The son excelled with a steal here and a pass there. The voice watched and held his tongue, fearful of the sanctions of the ref. Then the son took the ball down the right side, cut to the middle and fired a scorching shot into the upper right corner of the net. The voice could not hold back any longer. Without thinking, he burst through the wall of parents on the sidelines and shouted, "play like that!". Everything stopped. All heads turned slowly toward the voice. "What did he say?", we all thought, holding our collective breath. The voice stood alone. The silence was overwhelming. Then the ref turned and fixed her gaze upon him. She repeated the phrase to herself, "play like that". A smile stretched across her face and she nodded approvingly. We all breathed again and the game resumed. From across the way a parent tentatively praised a boy, "play like that, son". Then another parent. "Play like that!". Then another parent from our side. "Play like that!". Then more confidently, parents from both sides began chanting, "play like that, play like that, play like that!"