One sports parent began training his son at the age of four to become a pro football player. The dad quit his job to facilitate his son’s coaching. The boy is now 12 and spends 10 hours per day training with his father.
When is a sports parent too involved?
Above all, sports parents need to keep in mind the importance of helping their young athletes lead balanced lives. Do they have the time to play with friends and pursue other interests? Or are their identities only defined by their role as athletes? You don’t want your kids to judge their self-worth solely on whether they score points or play on winning teams.
It’s also important to let the child lead you. You don’t want your child to play sports to fulfill your dreams. When kids play only to satisfy their parents, they often feel pressured. It’s difficult to play freely and intuitively. What’s more, they generally drop out of sports, and then miss all its great social, emotional and physical benefits!
We’re not saying you shouldn’t be involved at all in your child’s sports experience. It’s all about striking a balance. Once your child decides to play sports, you’ve got an important role to play as sports parents.
You should take charge of finding an appropriate coach and team for your child. It’s a good idea to support the coach and team as much as possible by bringing snacks or organizing the parents.
What’s more, you should learn all about “mental game” strategies that will help your child boost confidence and happiness in sports. Some of these strategies include:
• Setting manageable goals instead of communicating high expectations
• Focusing your child’s attention on the process of execution in the here and now instead of worrying about results, rankings, and statistics
• Helping kids take responsibility for their confidence instead of leaving confidence up to chance—and how well they play at the beginning of a game
• Helping kids learn how to let go of mistakes
• Encouraging young athletes to stay composed during crunch time so they can contribute to the team instead of tightening up and playing scared
• Encouraging kids to play freely and intuitively rather than playing scared and being afraid of making mistakes.