We’ve all seen that one parent on the sideline, shouting out inappropriate comments at the top of their voice that are not only directed at their own child, but often at their teammates, coaches and the referee. How much does this behaviour influence the sporting experience of their child?
Parents have an important role in the sporting development of their child.
However, caution needs to be taken in their approach as a parent’s behaviour can have both positive and negative effects on their child’s sporting experience. So below we run through some key points to emphasise a positive experience for your child and some areas to avoid which can lead to negativity.
- Encourage your child to develop their own self-awareness of skills they have gained. This will enhance self-confidence and facilitate the transfer of such skills to other areas of life.
- Put trust in the coaches’ methods. If the same messages are being portrayed by both the parent and the coach then there is a lower chance of the child becoming confused, which means they will be able to focus more on working towards set goals.
- Provide emotional and tangible support. This may seem obvious, but reassuring your child that you are there when they need you will show your support. A parents support can’t be dependant on the youth athlete having a positive performance.
- Emphasis needs to be on the participation in an event and not the final result . Healthy competition is good for young athletes — experience of both winning and losing helps shape a person — but self esteem and confidence needs to be developed during training and not specifically linked to competitive placing.
- Become over-involved. Although this may be your way of showing you care, be wary that there is a fine line between supporting your child and over involvement.
- Provide inappropriate coaching advice. This may provide conflicting messages to that which they have received from the coach. If you disagree with the coach, it is better to talk it through and have a quiet discussion with them at another time, rather than potentially coming across as disrespectful..
- Put too much pressure on and emphasise the importance of winning and success. No matter what standard of competition your child is, they should always be enjoying their sport. Additional pressure can take away this enjoyment and be detrimental to their performance.
- Expect perfection or tie your ego or image to your child’s performance. Perfectionism is a very hard expectation to live up to. Laying guilt on a child because “their performance made YOU look bad,” is highly destructive. Your child is NOT responsible for your ego or your reputation in the community.
To summarise, the importance of the role parents play in youth sport is unquestionable, but caution must be taken to ensure the enjoyment and sporting development of the youth athlete is not hindered.
Parents must make it known and clear that they are proud regardless of outcomes.
This should not correlate with any competitive positions, which can increase stress and anxiety before an event has taken place. Many children will continue to be involved in sports every year and some will have the ability to succeed to higher-level competitions and more intense training regimes. The points above are a great start in building esteem and confidence for any standard of performance, as laying strong foundations for the mental aspect of sports will help the youth athlete cope with increasing physical and technical demands that come with progression.