Book Review


DON’T “SHOULD” ON YOUR KIDS: Build Their Mental Toughness

By Dr. Rob Bell and Bill Parisi

Reviewed by Rick Wolff

This delightful sports parenting – and coaching – guide features a most unusual title, which is clearly intended to motivate Moms and Dads to try and think twice before putting their own personal expectations onto their kids who play sports.

Adapted from one of the earlier chapters in the book, the authors pinpoint some of the daily interactions that sports parents have with their kids before the youngster goes into action:

“Alex, you shouldn’t be nervous.”

“Dwayne, you shouldn’t make so many mistakes.”

You get the idea. Any well-meaning sports parent who has exposed to their 10-year-old to a post-game analysis on the drive home from a game will immediately recognize what Dr. Bell and Mr. Parisi are alluding to in this chapter.

Of course, most sports parents feel it’s their obligation to lay these “shoulds” on their kids, especially when the game just finished and the action is still fresh in one’s mind and the parents are driving their son or daughter to their next event. Problem is, this kind of parental grilling only ends up alienating the youngster from the sport. It does not motivate them to play harder or better.

The rest of the chapters in the book offer timely and other pertinent parenting and coaching insights as well, including advice on specializing in one sport, dealing with pre-game jitters, coping with adversity, keeping calm during games, and other related topics. The authors do a fine job in peppering their book with case studies of young athletes as well as professional ballplayers, all of whom have experienced the thrill of victory as well as the agony of defeat on a personal level. It makes for compelling reading.

Overall, because the chapters are short, this is a fast-paced and entertaining read that adds real insight into the library of sports parenting and coaching manuals.  I do think that we are gaining ground in educating sports parents and coaches about the intricacies in how we communicate with our kids who are developing athletes, and Bell and Parisi have written an excellent manual that every Mom, Dad, and coach ought to read before they start a conversation with their aspiring youngster. In other words, Mom and Dad, think twice before you lay a “should” on your athlete.


Dr. Rob Bell is a long-time sports psychology coach who has worked with top athletes as well as with corporate employees. For more information, his website is

Bill Parisi is well-known for his highly popular Parisi Speed School outlets throughout the country. A former NCAA All-American in track and field, Parisi qualified for the 1988 Olympic trials in the javelin throw. Check out

DON’T “SHOULD” ON YOUR KIDS is available on Amazon. 152 pages, $18.