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The Parents Role

WHAT IS EXPECTED OF THE PARENTS

Support the program and the coaches with a positive attitude.

Help your child honor his or her practice and competition commitment.

Service Hours to help with phone calls, work at swim meets, timing, meet hospitality, Booster Club, help with parties, fundraising, etc.

Help your child establish and honor priorities (school & swimming).

Keep informed of our team activities.

Make sure you regularly check the team’s website and bulletin boards for handouts and information the swimmers are given.

Check the weekly training schedule and attendance reports on our website or bulletin boards at both sites.

Talk to your child’s coach when you have questions about the program or your child’s progress.

WHAT CAN PARENTS DO TO HELP

It may sound like a cliché, but the best thing a parent can do is support your child.  In swimming, what can be supported is their commitment to practice, to competition and most important, to their own personal goals.

Support their efforts.  Your child will work hard, but will often meet with setbacks.  It is important that they remember that work always pays off.  Often times, in the middle of a season, a swimmer will have a great swim and people will say, “Where did that come from?”  It came from persevering through the last season’s setbacks.

PARENTS ROLE IN COMPETITIVE SWIM

Swimming is a sport that requires tremendous parental support.  As your swimmer grows and develops, he or she will spend from one to six hours a day at the pool.

Often the role of the coach is exaggerated.  Parents must remember that they are the most important influence in their children’s lives.  Since this parenting role is so important, its influence on swimming is most important.

The role of the parent must be a support role -- not only in the tremendous logistical support that is necessary (feeding, transporting, supplying, affording, etc.) but the psychological and spiritual support of acceptance.

Very often young swimmers make a critical mistake.  They equate (usually subconsciously) their self-worth as human beings with their competitive success.  When that attitude is present in their parents, it is easily be transferred to the swimmer and harm the child’s competitive success.

Obviously, this is a very unhealthy situation, and ironically, the parents who are the most interested in their children’s swimming success are the most vulnerable to fall victim to this.  The challenge is to channel your parenting energies in the proper direction.

Most people find it quite easy to deal with success.  That is something everyone enjoys.  The problem comes when that success is not enjoyed.  When a person’s best effort is treated as, “That is what we expected” or “OK, you improved five seconds, now improve more” there is nothing there for the child to enjoy.  Success must be enjoyable and it must be enjoyable to parents and swimmers alike.  Leave the goal setting to the swimmers and coaches.

Many difficulties arise in dealing with failures.  First, failures must be put in perspective.  An age group swimmer may swim five events per day.  If a major league baseball player gets a hit, any hit, two out of five times at bat he will win the league batting championship with a .400 average!  If a professional quarterback connects on fifty percent of his passes, he will be offered a multi-million dollar contract.  Setting standards for a young age group swimming higher than a professional athlete is unreasonable.

Punishing a temporary setback does other harm as well.  It puts tremendous pressure on a child, and this only increases anxiety and the frequency of sub-standard performances.  People perform better when relaxed and not under any external pressure.

The toughest job a parent has, then, is to relieve pressure on their child, not to increase it.  This is where parental acceptance is so important.  After a child turns in what he or she view as a substandard performance, there is no need to remind him or her of it.  The swimmer already knows it.  Swimmers tend to punish themselves for it and their own self-worth often deteriorates badly.  It is at this time that the parent must have something affirming to say.

There has to be something good in a race: a start, a turn, pacing, and stroke improvements.  Even in the worst race, merely persevering through an obviously substandard performance is worth praising.

It is this type of parental acceptance and nurturing that builds a “tough” swimmer.  To race well, the swimmer must be willing to take risks.  To set a world record, win an Olympic medal, or simply achieve a personal best time, the swimmer must take risks.  He or she must risk new, sometimes-unfamiliar stroke patterns or breathing sequences.  If the price of failure outweighs the enjoyment of success, there is little chance the child will be willing to take the risks necessary to become successful.

How can the parent, already involved with a child’s sport, best channel his or her energies?  It has already been stated that it is the coach’s job to coach and correct, while it is the parent’s role to support and accept, but the parents need some constructive role.  The support role is suggested and recommended.

Guy D. Barnicoat of Mission Viejo, California, was the National Age-Group Swimming Chairman.  He is father to two nationally ranked swimmers and his advice to parents at a national A.A.U. Convention was, “Get involved behind the scenes.  Get involved in any of the support roles in swimming.”

This was some of the soundest advice offered, channel that energy into officiating, working the entry table or Booster Club representation.  

Let the coaches coach

Let your swimmers swim 

Enjoy their athletic career and help out behind the scenes!