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For Parents

Ten Commandments for Parents of Athletes

From USA Swimming

 

  1. Make sure your children know that win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their efforts, are not disappointed in them.  This will allow them to do their best without fear of failure.  Be the person in their life they can look to for constant positive enforcement.

 

  1. Try your best to be completely honest about your child’s athletic capability, their competitive attitude, sportsmanship and actual skill level.

 

  1. Be helpful, but don’t coach them on the way to the rink, pool, or track or on the way back or at breakfast, and so on.  It’s tough not to, but it’s a lot tougher for the child to be inundated with advice, pep talks, and often critical instruction.

 

  1. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be “out there trying”, to be working to improve their skills and attitudes.  Help them to develop the feel for competing, for trying hard, for having fun.

 

  1. Try not to re-live your athletic life through your children in a way that creates pressure; you fumbled, too, you lost as well as won.  You were frightened, you backed off at times, you were not always heroic.  Don’t pressure them because of your lost pride.

 

  1. Don’t compete with the coach.  If the coach becomes an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment, etc., with your athlete.

 

  1. Don’t compare the skill, courage or attitudes or your children with other members of the team, at least within their hearing.

 

  1. Get to know the coaches so that you can be assured that the philosophy, attitudes, ethics and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under their leadership.

 

  1. Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and when criticized.  Temper your reaction and investigate before overreacting.

 

  1. Make a point of understanding courage and the fact that it is relative.  Some of us can climb mountains and are afraid to fight.  Some of us will fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches.  Everyone is frightened in certain areas.  Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something in spite of fear or discomfort. The job of the parent of an athletic child is a tough one and it takes a lot of effort to do it well.  It is worth all the effort when you hear your youngster say, “My parents really helped. I was lucky in this.”