Role of the Parent – Part 1
Being a Team Player
As parents, you are part of the team – the team that is training and guiding your child through their sport experience. As part of a team, for the increased chance of success of the athlete, it’s important that all stakeholders not only understand their role but execute their role exceptionally well.
Very simplified, the role of the athlete is to take responsibility for themselves at increasing levels as they grow older. The role of the coach is to instruct and train the athlete the best that they can. The role of the parent is to nurture and support the athlete. All stakeholders have a responsibility to communicate with each other on how things are going. This is a very simplified perspective.
We all need support; to know that we’re loved and accepted and that we have a purpose. Children are exceptionally vulnerable and it is the parent’s job to provide this sense of unconditional love and acceptance. What does this look like with respect to sports? It means refraining from correcting them and giving technical or tactical advice. Your child is looking to you to love them and accept them no matter how they perform (unconditionally). They look for your smiling face, your expression of love and acceptance. Maybe even your hug. When a child hears technical instruction from their parent, they hear, “I’m not good enough”. When they see disappointment on your face, they see, “My dad doesn’t accept me”. When they hear your frustration and disapproval, they hear, “My mom doesn’t love me”. This is tragic for a child.
Next practice or game try this; Every time your child looks over to you, smile and nod approvingly to encourage them. At the end of the practice, ask them if they had fun, give them a pat on the back and tell them you love them. When you feel compelled to correct their technique or give input into their game, literally bite your tongue to help you not say anything. (I’ve done this with my own children and it works!) We promise that we will take care of our end of the team and provide the very best instruction and training that we possibly can. Just like you are going to be a better parent next month than you are now, we will be better trainers next month than we are now. How can our athletes/children not succeed when we are all pulling our weight and performing our functions effectively with this type of teamwork?