In Parents' Role in Youth Sports

You’re NOT being “helpful” when you push your children athletically. You’re NOT going to inspire them to athletic greatness when you get angry at them after a bad/disappointing performance. You’re NOT going to motivate them by being on their case relentlessly and forcing them to do extra, unwanted cross training and practicing. You’re NOT going to improve their tactics or technique by regularly “coaching” them by critiquing after practices and competitions.

Instead, what YOU WILL DO is add extra stress to their lives, make it impossible for them to relax and perform to their potential, contribute to their performance problems and make them a candidate for premature burnout/dropout! And none of the above even touches what a negative affect all of your “help” will have on how they feel about and their relationship with you!

What your children most need from you in relation to their competitive sports is for you to be their parents and love them unconditionally in a way that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW THEY PERFORM IN THE ATHLETIC ARENA. If you have any investment in wanting your children to reach their athletic potential and be emotionally happy and stable human beings in the world, then you will pay close attention to my words.

Most repetitive performance problems that I run into in my work are fueled by the athlete’s secret worries that he/she is disappointing mom and/or dad. This worry generates powerful anxiety in the athlete that disrupts their focus of concentration, tightens their muscles and guarantees that their performance will be consistently below par.

No child (of any age) can perform well when they feel that their self-worth and lovability in their parents’ eyes is at stake. If you actively show your disappointment, anger, frustration or displeasure with your child after they fail or struggle, then this is exactly what you are communicating to them: “Perform or else I will not love you as much.”

Instead, you need to learn to emotionally “hold” your children the way you once did when they were first born. You were in awe of the little miracles that they were back then and unconditionally loving. When your children were that small, they did not have to perform for your love and acceptance. You just naturally and happily gave it. Your relationship with them was not complicated or compromised by something as ultimately insignificant (in the long run) as their athletic performance.

When you watch your child from the stands or sidelines today, you must get back in touch with “holding them” in that same, uncomplicated, loving manner. “Hold” them and love them in a way that has nothing to do with their sport or how well they do. Do not make them perform for your love. Do not burden them with the responsibility of having to make you happy. Their sport should be just that! THEIR sport! It should be a source of joy and fun for them completely unburdened by the heavy weight of worry that they might be letting you down unless they perform to YOUR EXPECTATIONS!


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