As parents we often get pretty wrapped up in our athlete’s performances – whether in practice or competition – and while our comments are often well meaning, that’s not always what our athletes take away from it! I just read an article on USA Swimming called How Parents Affect Success: An Athlete’s Perspective. A coach in Texas did an activity with her swimmers where they anonymously were able to give feedback on the things their parents did well as “swim parents” and things they really wish their swim parent wouldn’t do and then shared the feedback with parents.
Some of the things they are grateful for included (from the article):
- When my parents encourage and support me even after a swim that I did not drop time.
- When my parents tell me to not worry about my event, just go out and have fun.
- How my parents prepare for my meets: Drive me there, take time off to go to meet, bring healthy food.
- When my parents accept that even though I added time, I still tried my best.
- When my parents don’t put pressure on me.
Some of the things parents just would not do (from the article):
- I don’t like it when other parents and my parents compare me to the other swimmers.
- I hate when my parents try to fix my stroke technique and try to tell me how to swim.
- I don’t like when my parents yell “go” too loud and make others look.
- I don’t like when my parents always think I should drop time in every event.
Go read the whole article for further insight from athlete’s of various age groups. There is a little bit more perspective as they get older, but what our athletes want most from us as parents is support! After all, they are the ones doing the practices, enduring the sore muscles and taking the corrections from the coach.
As a parent who has also been on the coach side of the fence, I will say, sometimes it is REALLY hard not give “suggestions” on how your athlete should fix something, but ultimately that is NOT OUR JOB. That is the job of your athlete’s coach and if you don’t think the coach is really doing their job, then you might need to look for another program.
What part of being a sports parent do you find the most difficult?