In the area of training and with the Olympics starting, there will be a number of parents out there watching this and saying to themselves, "Hey, my kid can do that."
I have seen this in many sports, and it usually turns out bad. I recently read an article on the best athletes in our country, and they all compete for one reason. They have fun!!!
Now where do we draw the line between fun and achieving a level of athletic competence that will fullfill a competetive parent? What do you do when your athlete says 'I want to quit?'
Is it because there is too much pressure to WIN, or get that chance to have college paid for?
I have heard time and again parents saying things like:
"Do you know how much this is costing our family?"
"If you dont make it, you will never go to college."
"I was all conference and your're my child and I want you to also."
"I am your parent and I know exactly what's best for you."
"Your sister/brother is on this team, and so will you be."
Are you one of these parents? If so, cut it out. You have no idea the impact you're making on your athlete!
Kids need support and love with kindness to achieve a level that is superior to others. The same article says that the number one thing young athletes want from parents is a HUG. They do not want to be ridiculed on their performance, or told how to get better.
HUG them, love them, treat them as you would want to be. I have implemented this with some of the top athletes and their parents and not one has had a bad outcome!
Parents need to show unconditional love to these athletes. Coaches need to teach the parents this. As a professional in this field I encourage this with parents, but I have recently seen coaches do this also. I disagree with this! A high five or a handshake can do, but I have seen a coach rubbing an athletes back, and I find that over the top.
Most parents are sacrificing a lot for these athletes ,but do you really know how hard it is to them? Here perception comes in, unless you are a mind-reading parent, athletes put so much pressure on themselves because of your expectations.
In dual families it's very important to have a plan. I have seen undermining behavior that causes resentments to one side. Both parents should sit with the athlete seperately and discuss what they want and formulate a plan. One parent may see that it's 'one way or the highway,' whereas the other parent has a more realistic mindset.
The parent who spends the most time with the child usually has a better understanding of that athlete.
In the world of youth athletics we need to take a step back and let the athletes be...some kids are just going to be better than others for many reasons. If you constantly push them because of circumstances surrounding your family and peer group, it will come out of the athlete later in life.
Statistics show the poor behavior patterns these kids will have later. I know you are going to say, "Not my kid, he/ she would never do that!" But when they are mature adults is usually when this occurs. It's easy for kids to repress emotions out of fear at a young age.
Let's win the battle off the field with kindness and support for these kids and allow them to have fun in sports. Take youreslf out of the equation and provide them with an emotionally safe environment and sit and discuss important aspects of the athlete's sport.
Don't provide critcism to them, or about other players and coaches and enjoy the experience with them. Elite athletes are born and made, and the pool gets smaller as they progress. Try to not always put your athlete on such a high platform early because of a little sucess.
Remember most athletes are, unfortunately, one injury away from not playing so help them to remember to train properly and explain the fundamental health risks and benefits.
Almost every kid dreams of going to the Olympics, and I do not discourage this. But also as he gets older, the realistic expectations must come to the top. It's Ok to play and not always win and be number one. This is life we are talking about and its tough enough, so parents try to not pressure the athletes.