Working with young athletes over the years has really helped me to understand the impact that parents, coaches and trainers can have on a child’s future success in sports. This is the basis for why I am so passionate in giving back to my young athletes. While there is no doubt that coaches and trainers play an important role in helping an athlete learn to shine, there is no greater influence on a child’s drive to be his or her best than the encouragement of a supportive parent.
In my experience, the kids who really excel are the ones whose parents provide the help and guidance they need — yet allow them to “own” their sports experience and take the lead on decision making and direction. The reason is that sometimes an athlete may have all the athletic potential in the world but, unfortunately, their inspiration can be curtailed if their motivation is being driven by external sources rather than from within.
All parents, of course, want what’s best for their kids. However, in their quest to help their child achieve success, I’ve seen some overzealous parents unwittingly take on an unhealthy level of control over their son or daughter’s athletic endeavours. This can lead to the child feeling an excessive pressure to perform and a lack of confidence — which can then rob the player of the chance to discover his or her true potential. Family dynamics play a very important role as to whether a young player develops the “will to succeed” or simply accepts being “good enough” to satisfy his or her parents.
If you want to steer clear of, or try to get out of, this sports parenting trap, check out my three tips below. They will help you give the kind of support your athlete needs to develop a long love of sports and to believe in his or her unlimited potential to be the best he or she can possibly be!
1. Forget about what you want or think is best for your child in the game. Simply allow your athlete to discover all that encompasses the game. Be there to listen, provide positive re-enforcement and let them know that, no matter what, you are there for support.
2. When it comes to sports, nothing can have a greater impact on helping your son or daughter to develop skills and self-confidence than taking time out to play the game with them! Practising taking shots on net or playing a game of one-on-one in the driveway is a great way to bond and strengthen your child’s will to be better.
3. I believe the most important thing you can do as a sports parent is to continually reassure your child to live in the moment. It doesn’t matter what level a player is — what matters is that parents help to instill the qualities of a strong work ethic so the child knows, no matter what the situation, he or she has done the best he or she could possibly do.