For any athlete to become a champion, which to means going as far as possible in their sport, it takes a total team effort behind them. Without the appropriate support and guidance of coaches and parents, real success in sports is virtually impossible! The key here is that each member of the ATHLETE-PARENT-COACH team “play” the right role, and play it to the very best of their abilities!
Unfortunately, well-meaning team members frequently get caught up in wanting to do more to “help” and so inadvertently step outside of their proper role. When this happens, their “help” backfires, sabotaging the process and inadvertently generating performance problems for the athlete.
THE PARENTS’ ROLE
Be your child’s “best fan” – What your child needs most from you is SUPPORT. When things go badly they need you to be there for them emotionally. They need you to BE UNCONDITIONALLY LOVING, regardless of their performance!
Don’t coach – The biggest mistake that parents make on the team is that they want to “really” help, so they begin to coach on the side. Pregame suggestions, motivational advice or critiques, during game suggestions and hints and after game feedback on their play, mistakes, etc. is all coaching. If you want your child to go as far as possible, then you won’t coach! That’s the coach’s job, NOT yours!
Support the coach and the program – Don’t bad mouth the coach to other parents or to your kids. You want to support the coaching and the team. If you have problems with the coaching, then go directly to the coach at an appropriate time.
Support the other players on the team – Chances are good that your child is on a team. Support your child’s teammates. Cheer just as loudly for them as you do for your child.
Model appropriateness – Our kids learn from watching us and modeling our behaviors. In all of your interactions with the coach, teammates, other parents and game officials, be an adult role model that your children would be proud to emulate.
Keep the sport in perspective – Remember, you’re the adult here and you want to help your child keep their sport and this competition in perspective. The game should NEVER be larger than life. Also keep in mind that this is your son or daughter you’re dealing with here and their psychological well being and happiness is always much more important than the outcome of an insignificant youth sport contest!
Be a good sport – Similar to above, help your child handle winning and losing with dignity, class and good sportsmanship. This all starts with how YOU handle it!
Keep your child physically and emotionally safe – While your job is NEVER to coach, it is your job to insure that your child is in good hands. If you suspect that your child is at risk of physical or emotional abuse at the hands of the coach, then you must immediately intervene to insure their safety, talking to the coach, league director or a higher up when necessary.
Don’t EVER tie your child’s lovability and self-worth with their athletic performance – Your children should never have to perform to make you happy or earn your love.You need to give them the gift of your unconditional love so that they can play their sport unburdened!
Remember that your behaviors always speak much louder than your words – It’s not simply enough for you to say the “right” things to your children. You must also match your non-verbals to your words. Telling your kids that it’s OK when they fail yet responding with anger and frustration when they do so is giving your kids the clear message that it is NOT OK to fail!
When each member of the “team” plays their appropriate role, the athlete’s chances of turning their dream into a reality go way up.
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