Monday, May 4, 2009

Sport Parent

With Mothers Day on the way, thoughts turn to all things parent related. Many remember the time when t-ball and all the rest was dad’s thing. But times have changed with dads coaching daughters, who in turn grew up as moms with the skill and the will to coach their own daughters – and now sometimes their sons, too.
Sport Parenting is still a great challenge made all the more difficult by the increasing expectations and pressures for success that now fall far too soon on children. Some points to ponder on being a champion sport parent.

1. Support your youth athlete by providing a safe, sensible opportunity to train and compete, and grow from the experience of sport.
2. Establish an ongoing dialogue with the coach so that you understand his or her philosophy and remain aware of your youth athlete’s strengths and weaknesses - athletically and psychologically.
3. Provide unconditional emotional support as your youth athlete rides the ups and downs of the competitive experience, and help him or her learn the lessons of winning and losing.
4. Avoid coaching (unless you are the coach), that is, avoid giving specific instructions or critique of the technical or tactical aspects of sport.
5. Accept - even as you are bewildered by - your youth athlete’s varying demonstration of composure and distress, maturity and neediness in the competitive environment.
6. Talk candidly with your youth athlete about the role you should play as a parent at competitions. Be prepared to keep your distance.
7. Work actively to manage your own anxieties and frustrations as you watch your youth athlete compete. Be sure to set these aside before you interact afterwards.
8. Show composure in the face of stress, and let this serve as a model to your youth athlete. He or she is watching.
9. Identify mutual expectations for your youth athlete’s commitment to training and competition as you make successive commitments to support his or her sport activities financially and logistically.
10. Guide your youth athlete in balancing sport, school, family and other responsibilities.

Check out our website for more on sport parenting
*John Heil

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