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Click here for suggested reading from Coach Steuer: "Why Swimming?"

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I am attaching an article with some video links from NCAA Championships a couple years ago.

The article talks about the Top Arm breakout for Freestyle. It can also be done in backstroke which a little harder.

Take a look. This is how we should approaching all of our breakouts.  The reason most coaches teach the bottom arm is because many swimmers use their top arm in a sloppy, lazy way. If done aggressively with proper timing it is much more effective movement.  

Take a look at the videos and read the article. Then practice it off of every wall.

https://swimswam.com/volunteers-pioneers-top-arm-breakout/

Here is a video on the top arm breakout in Backstroke. Backstroke - Tennessee Breakout - YouTube

The key is to practice these, play with them until you feel comfortable. Don't just stick with what feels comfortable that will surely lead to stagnation.

 

 

 

Leave the Past Behind and Make This Your BEST SEASON EVER

By Dr. Alan Goldberg -  www.CompetitiveEdge.com

With a new season starting up this fall it’s a great time to think fresh and move forward with clarity, focus, and commitment to making this your best season EVER!

If recent experiences have left you disappointed, lacking in self-confidence, or questioning whether you’re really cut out for this sport then I’ve got news for you: if you still love the game then THIS MOMENT IS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY to bounce back and prove to yourself that you’ve got what it takes!

Let me ask you something, did you learn anything through those disappointments? Maybe it’s that you need to work more on your passing, landings, speed time, upper body strength, or something else? Maybe it’s that you need to address your pre-game nervousness, or that you need to develop a deeper understanding of the strategic elements of your sport. Take a moment to really reflect on what happened and FIND A TAKEAWAY. If there is at least ONE THING you’ve learned, then you’ve got yourself a GOAL, and goals are the essential stepping stones to making your dreams a reality. Today is a new day, and anything is possible!

Now let’s say you’re coming off a really successful run. You had a great season with significant victories, positive feedback from your coach, and are on track to be a team starter this season. Great! But does that mean you can coast on all those past wins? No way! Now it’s time to take it to the next level! CHALLENGE yourself to do better, beat your own time, advance in certain skills, and compete in a bigger way. Maybe you need to find a more advanced league, a more experienced coach, a new way to train. EGO CAN BE THE GREATEST DOWNFALL OF SUCCESSFUL ATHLETES, so don’t let yours take over just because you’ve done well so far!

So how can you look forward instead of back this season?

 1. Leave the past in the past.

Take what is helpful, and let go of what isn’t. There’s nothing more distracting to your present concentration than to dwell on what’s already happened.

 2. Make a plan.

What’s your intention or goal now as you take the next step? What do you really want to work on? What is something challenging yet possible to accomplish with hard work and dedication this season? Where/how do you want to see yourself progressing in your sport within the next 3 months? And most importantly, HOW are you going to do that? List concrete ways you’re going to dedicate yourself to getting there, including who’s going to help you.

 3. Create opportunities.

If you really want to reach new heights then it’s going to take more than just hard work in practice and games, you’ll need to expand your potential and create opportunities for learning, for connection with the right resources or people, and for experiences that will help you excel. Maybe it’s going to more games as a fan so you can observe those who are above your level of experience, and maybe that means finding a way to meet with those players or their coaches to ask them questions and introduce yourself as aspiring to someday be where they are now. Maybe it’s competing outside your usual circuit, or entering some contest where the prize is VIP access at a big match. Whatever this means for you, become an OPPORTUNITY DETECTIVE to find and take those opportunities when they come along!

Don’t ever let the past hold you back from what is possible TODAY and TOMORROW. It’s a new season, and a new chance to SHOW ‘EM WHAT YOU’VE GOT! 


Balancing School and Swimming, it's not just about time management

Being a swimmer, you most likely have learned how to manage your time wisely. However, that does mean that it is completely easy to balance school and swimming. Although many college students have already been through their last final, most high school and maybe middle school (not sure about elementary school finals?) are still in session. The start of a new season and the nearing end of the school year can be a stressful time for many swimmers. Focus will shift from a good practice to a good test and then back to a good practice and probably another good test. Your mind may be a bit overwhelmed with everything going on right now. The key is to focus on one thing at a time while focusing on everything as a whole. What?

Well, let me explain. The moments before and during, focus on the test or the practice. Don’t let your mind wander from finding “x” to what workout will be like tonight. And vice versa, if your coach is telling you to focus on your pull, don’t try to figure out how to do the problem you skipped on your final. In other words, live in the moment and having fun living it. Each part of life needs some sort of focus because each piece adds up to the whole thing.

Both school and swimming are a part of life right? So, just focus on life as a whole and everything else will fall into place. After all, each part of life has its own important role. School and swimming are just two important parts in it. Don’t forget about your friends, family, maybe other activities you do outside of school, and anything else. All of those put together fall into one complete puzzle. If you focus on life as a single entity, you focus on everything at the same time. Instead of shifting focus back and forth, the big picture focus will keep you on top of things. Need to focus on school? That’s part of life. How about swimming? That’s life as well.

Saying “I’m going to focus on life” is going to be easier than thinking “I’m going to focus on my two finals, helping my sibling, a dryland session, my chores, afternoon practice, and what I’ll eat afterwards. As long as you focus on life, you’ll be able to focus on anything and everything.

 


From SwimSwam by Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Call it Daily GRIT!!!

How often have you caught yourself wondering what separates the top athletes in the pool from the mere mortals? Sure, genetics have a part to play, as does the environment and support system they are surrounded with. But very frequently it’s as a result of a blinding and burning internal fortitude.

In other words– mental toughness.

It is one of the most often cited factors behind athletic success, with 83% of a group of intercollegiate coaches ranking mental toughness as the critical aspect to determining success in sport.

Does that sound like something you might be interested in?

Here is a 7-question checklist that you can use for you or your athletes to keep them focused on being mentally tough on a daily basis (you can also download the list as a pretty little PDF further down):

Did I manage my own swimming and not worry about what others are doing?

Swimming being a competitive endeavor and all, it is a bit natural to get caught up in what your fellow swimmers are doing. That being said, problems develop when we place too much attention on the efforts of others, or allow someone else’s swimming dictate how we are going to swim that day.

I will never forget the deflating feeling of my coach telling us all about how a 15 year old named Ian Thorpe was crushing world records across the globe. To hear about someone so young going so fast was the opposite of motivating. It only served to highlight where I was in comparison. It took me about half of warm-up to stop feeling sorry for myself and to remember that I couldn’t control what someone quite literally across the world was doing.

Did I smartly bounce back from any setbacks?

You and I both know that sadly not every workout will go down as the best one ever. You’ll have a bunch of good ones, a few great ones, and a few stinkers.

For those moments that you don’t exactly light up the pool, where your workout appeared otherwise wasted, did you struggle through regardless? And more importantly, did you emerge from it smarter and better informed for the future?

For example, if you can draw any reasonable conclusions for why the practice was not good? And no, “Because I didn’t feel like it” isn’t a suitable enough reason, or at least not good enough to insure that it won’t happen again down the road.

Did I stay focused on the stuff that matters?

Life has a way of distracting us. Things will always come up that we cannot possibly foresee to shatter our attention. And then there are the things that we do to take our own eyes off the ball. Getting caught up in the melodrama of friends. Spending time and energy on distractions and unforeseen circumstances. Or simply wandering off mentally while working out.

Mentally tough swimmers (and people in general) don’t allow the distractions to get in the way of the task at hand.

Did I work my butt off?

Mentally tough swimmers don’t look for excuses to not work hard. They feel the soreness, sense the fatigue, acknowledge all of the excuses—and then proceed to work their butts off anyway. Even if the results weren’t perfect, did I give a killer effort at practice?

Did I display heaps of perseverance?

Mentally tough swimmers don’t give up. They simply don’t. They continue pushing and prodding past what others think possible, which only serves to reinforce the notion that they are indeed imbedded with this characteristic. (So that is good news—the more you display it, the more you will believe that you are actually mentally tough, and thereby be more inclined to use it. Nice little self-feeding loop there!)

In what you were asked to do today did you find yourself calling it quits prematurely? Did you pull back early, even though you could have gone further? Possibly one of the most rewarding aspects of being mentally tough is continuing on long after the swimmers in your lane have quit or dropped out.

Am I trusting the process?

Even though the ultimate goal is still a ways off, remember to have faith in your abilities, your training, and the plan set forth with your coach. You understand that while not every step will go perfectly, that your trust in the overall direction you are headed in is still correct.

And perhaps most importantly…

What do I have to be grateful for today?

Sure, this might not seem like it fits in this little checklist, but a little bit of gratitude can go a long way. Especially on those days when it feels like we need to summon every last ounce of willpower and motivation in order to get ourselves psyched up to hammer down on a workout.


5 Reasons That Swimmers Fail
 

 

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy - from SwimSwam

Think about the big thing you want to accomplish with your swimming. It’s what you dream about at night, fantasize about when you should be paying attention in class, the tug you feel early in the morning when you are struggling to get out of bed for morning workout.

It goes without saying that for a great majority of us, we screw up a lot. Some of us with more frequency than others, but none of us are perfect, and certainly none of us act perfectly.

Here are 5 of the more common ways that swimmers impede progress towards the swimming goals they ache for:

1. You stubbornly refuse to learn the lessons necessary to progress.

With every step that we take — whether it is a step forward or a step backward — there are lessons to be learned, feedback to be gleaned. Regardless of if we totally nailed it or totally bombed, if we aren’t learning along the way the experience is wasted.

The lessons learned can come in a variety of forms: You realize that yes, you can’t get away with half-nights of sleep for the week leading up to the big meet. Or that how you treat your body outside of the pool makes a difference. Or that your coach’s instruction — that went largely ignored — could have made the difference in placing 1st instead of 5th.

Thinking that you have all of the answers might make you feel nice, but you know what feels even better? Being great.

2. You’re afraid of standing above the crowd.

Doing something special with our swimming is threatening to the complacent among us. It opens a window into what is possible, and for some of our peers they’d prefer that window be shut so that they can brush aside their own failed aspirations.

As a result people will tell you that it cannot be done, that it will never be done, and that you cannot do it. Don’t buy into this small-minded group think.

If you are serious about doing something special with your swimming it’s crucial that you understand that to do so is abnormal. It’s weird. It goes against what is typical, what is average, what is common.

3. You’re giving up way too early.

It’s frustrating when things don’t come together the way you expect them to. You train your butt off in the pool, and yet when it comes to race time the results come up short of your expectations. As a result you beat yourself up mentally, the race having reaffirmed all of the fears and doubts you had of yourself. Not talented enough. Not deserving. Not good enough. And so on.

At this point it is normal to feel like giving up. To let those doubts sink in and take firm root.

We tend to take our failures too personally. We take a perceived lack of progress as a sign that the goal is impossible, and give up on things way too soon. In those moments remember that anything worth having doesn’t come easy.

Strife is a normal part of the process, so take a deep breath, and bounce back twice as focused and determined.

4. You’re not willing to do what it takes.

Our brains are inherently lazy. It’s why we have to motivate ourselves to go train, it’s why we need to instill habits that override our brain’s instinct to do the least amount of work possible. Your brain is like this, so is mine, and so is everybody else’s.

To do what you have never done before, you will have to do more than you are currently doing. This means getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

If you see what has to be done, and are still unwilling to do it, that’s fine. Interstellar swimming isn’t for everyone. But if it is something you do want, get into the mindset that you are going to have to do it better and more gangster than the next swimmer.

5. You’re not capitalizing on your successes.

You banged out a solid cycle of training. Nailed the taper. Stood up on the blocks and cranked out the swim of your life. But then when training resumed the following week you felt yourself adrift, aimless, and with the afterglow of a successful meet fading fast you discover that you aren’t that interested in putting the work in anymore.

After a little while the momentum you generated heading into that big meet has evaporated and you find yourself struggling to simply get back to where you were.

So what happened here?

A common reason this let-down happens is that you invested yourself completely in the outcome of the meet. You laid it all on the line for that one performance, letting the outcome of that particular race define you and your swimming.

Instead of focusing on being a championship swimmer at meet time, focus on being a championship swimmer every day in practice.

Once you take care of the process, the day-to-day grind of showing up and laying a whooping on your workouts, than the results seem to take care of themselves.


 

 

 

 

You Are Not How You Perform In Swimming

by Pete Thompson - SwimSwam

Athletes at all levels experience the pressures of competition. Such pressures may come from parents, coaches, teammates or, most likely, from the athletes own expectations for their performance. While these pressures are quite common they are sure to limit an individual’s level of competitive intensity by taking the focus away from what they already do well, and putting it squarely on the outcome. Where do these self-imposed pressures come from, and what can athletes do to manage them?

It is fair to say that we live in a negativity culture. Television, magazines, media and peer influences seem to place a constant focus on what can, or does, go wrong. This necessarily creates a negativity bias in our brain, and for athletes, leads to performance limitations. Rather than focusing on the task at hand many swimmers report thinking of the “dire” consequences of a perceived poor performance. This type of negative thinking takes away from the positive energy needed to generate a powerful performance, and in reality, prophesizes a disappointing one. I remember talking with a foreign born Olympic medalist some years ago about the pressures he felt from his fellow countrymen to win Gold. By the time he got up to the block he was so fraught with worry that he wasn’t even focused on the start.

So, how can swimmers alleviate these societal and self-imposed pressures? According to psychologist and researcher Carol Dweck, we can either approach challenges with a growth mindset (I love a challenge…I am going to get there…I am curious about where this leads) or a fixed mindset (I am judged as good or not so good, and nothing will change that). Chances are, many of us bring a fixed mindset with us to our endeavors. What is required to maximize potential, however, is a growth mindset that focuses on being the best we can be in any given circumstance, regardless of the outcome. This type of thinking generates mental toughness and resilience, and results in a happier and healthier athlete who, interestingly, performs better! In effect, you approach challenges not as a comment on who you are, but on how these challenges will help you grow. How fun is that!

In your next practice, or meet, try focusing only on what it is you can control, with the intent to free yourself from expectations and be curious about what you might learn from the experience.

Focus on What You Can Control

  • Positive attitude
  • Value as a teammate
  • Commitment to excellence
  • Courage to try new things
  • Technique
  • Competitive instinct
  • Training intensity

Try it. You just might like what happens next.


I guess it is human nature, but it has always concerned my how much swimmers and parents try to avoid potential

failure".  When embracing a growth mindset "failure" is a temporary and inevitable part of the process of stretching and challenging oneself. 

 

From Olivier Poirier-Leroy  at SwimSwam

Here are 6 tips for swimming out into the rarefied air of champions this year—

1. Take a step, no matter how small. The first step is always going to be the hardest. It’s when the excuse-machine in your brain is firing on all cylinders, peppering you with reasons to not move forward. To stay static, to stay put, to stay safe. Don’t try to achieve a wholesale change in your routine off the bat – just make the first step, no matter how small or how insignificant it may seem in the context of your overall goal.

2. Chase the stuff that scares you with your training. It’s easy to dwell within the confines of what you are comfortable with at practice. Embracing difficulty and things that might otherwise scare you will show you how most of the things you fear – an increased workload, committing fully to your own success – actually turn out to be the things that end up freeing your abilities.

3. Embrace objective and constructive self-criticism. When you gloss over or lie to yourself about something once it becomes easier to do it again. Being acutely aware of where you are at currently – without attaching a good or bad label to it – helps you plan more realistically, and helps you to avoid getting demoralized by setting goals that don’t match up to your capabilities.

4. If you fall short, do it with your chin up. There is no shame in failing where others were too timid or scared to commit. Be proud of the fact that you made the conscious decision to take risk and attempt to deliver on the opportunities presented to you. Ignore the comments from the cheap seats, and don’t allow the things others say stop you from doing what comes next–

5. Bounce back with action, authority and armed with a lesson learned. When you get your nose bloodied, your first reaction might be to retreat. The negative thoughts in your head will start churning away again, pumping out variations of the “I told you that you couldn’t do this” at break-neck speed. Instead focus on the lesson that needs to be learned – what are you going to do differently this time around? – and bounce back fast and hard.

6. Doing the hard stuff is what thins the herd. Each swimmer in your group or on your team want to be successful. They want to be recognized for their talents and abilities. But they are afraid to show up early. Afraid to chase the most challenging interval. Afraid to risk looking like a “failure.” Afraid to try and not succeed in front of their friends, peers, and family.

Will you be willing to do the hard stuff that others are too scared to do?



I am amazed when I hear from swimmers how little sleep they are getting.

Sleep is a key biological component for growth, and recovery not only from a physical stand point but also from a neurological and mental stand point. Study after study has shown this, especially as it pertains to children and young adults.

     However  several things seem to be getting in the way of our ability or desire to get enough sleep. The first is the Western perception that sleep is for the lazy.

"I will sleep when I am dead" after all how can you be an achiever when you are asleep. As adults we have the luxury of living by this motto whether it be productive or not.  For children who's minds and bodies are still developing I think this is incredibly short sighted.

     The second factor that is causing kids to become sleep deprived is the excessive demands of modern day academia. As students stay up to all hours completing their work, they are actually sacrificing real learning. With the exorbitant price of higher education these days, AP classes and scholarship money often become the end game. As opposed to learning and growing. These two things don't have to be mutually exclusive however. Learn to mange your time and get a feel for when you are being counter productive. 

      In the water the effects of poor sleeping habits are even more apparent.

Physiology 101 will tell you to increase any physical capacity you must stress the organism and then let it recover.  It is in the recovery that the body gets stronger. Sleep is the ultimate recovery time.

The swimmers get plenty of stress as coaches we need to plan recovery time in training. As athletes you need to plan recovery though sleep and proper nutrition.

     You can find different recommendations for the amount of sleep children should get from different sources. And I am definitely not an expert on the subject, but a good rule of thumb seams to be for kids between the ages of 7-12, 10 to 11 hours are optimal, while those 13 and older should be getting between 8 and 9 hours of sleep.  As swimmers sometimes we can actually get away with  a little bit less because the presumption is that we will have a higher quality slumber due to exhausting our bodies.

SO..... Get some sleep, take a nap when you can and eat right. You only have one body and mind treat it well!

 

Here is a link to a related article http://www.swimmingscience.net/2013/12/does-extra-sleep-enhance-swimming.html


12 Questions and conversations to have with a college coach

 
I fequently hear the question "What questions should I ask a college coach?"  Here is a list of questions and conversations you might want to have, in no particular order.

1. Ask about the weekly training schedule. Will you be doing three mornings a week? Five? How does dryland/weight training fit into the schedule?
2. Find out how a typical team practice is structured.  Many teams split into sprint/middle distance/distance every day.  Others might have an IM/Breaststroke group, a Fly group, and a backstroke group.  Other teams might split the groups one way on Mondays, a different way on Tuesdays, etc.
3. Ask about summer training.  Do most swimmers stick around in the summer?  What does the coaching staff expect of swimmers who go home for the summer? Is there long course training available at school during the summer?
4. What is the housing situation on the team? Some schools require athletes to live on campus during their freshman and sophomore years.  Other schools may have housing that is close to the pool or classes where athletes typically live.  Would you be able/encouraged to room with one of your swimming teammates?
5. Ask about the training philosophy of the coaching staff.  Are they a mega-distance team? Are they a sprint-based team? Will their philosophy on training help you improve?
6. Have the coaches had success with swimmers of your ability in your events?  In their experience, what are the characteristics of swimmers who are typically successful in their program.
7. Ask how you fit into the team.  What events will they expect you to swim?  Where are you on the depth chart?  Do they expect you to be a contributor on relays?
8. What are the coaches' goals for the team this year? Next year? Where do they see the program going during your next four years?
9. Ask about financial aid.  See SwimSwam's article on how to ask for a swim scholarship.
10. If you want to go on an official visit, ask if that is an opportunity that they can provide for you.  What are the procedures for getting one set up?
11.  If you are going on a visit, ask to sit in on a class, see athlete housing, and anything else that will help you get "the feel" of what it is like to be an athlete at the school.
12. What coach or coaches will you be training with primarily?  Based on your training group, you are likely to see an assistant or the head coach more frequently than others.  You should at least get to meet or speak with this person.




As some of you know I have always been a diehard Colts fan. Starting when they were in Baltimore ( yes I am that old! ) and now as they represent Indianapolis. I was just reading an article on their young quarterback Andrew Luck and his development. After he was selected first overall in the 2012 NFL draft I ran across an interesting quote from his father:

A Word from the Wise

 
 “I didn’t want to be a helicopter parent on the sideline,” he says. “We were the antithesis of a son and father who dissected a football game. I never watched a moment of film with him. You can have a lot of coaches, but you only have one dad.” ~Oliver Luck (father of Andrew Luck), Former NFL Quarterback current University of West Virginia Athletic Director. 
 
This could not have been easy for him, after all he WAS an expert!  But his expertise wasn't only in how the sport should be played, but, more importantly, in how a child/athlete develops over the long haul.
His son now has a degree in Architecture from Stanford and is also one of the top young players in the sport.
Luck attributes much of this to his Father and his LACK of coaching.

Ladder of Achievement

100% I Did
90% I Will
80% I Can
70% I Think I Can
60% I Might
50% I Think I Might
40 % What is It?
30% I Wish I Could
20% I Don't Know How
10% I Can't
0% I Won't

This is called the Ladder of Achievement. It shows how your attitude towards a goal or task can impact your ability to achieve it. The ladder of achievement suggests that an attitude of "I can't" has almost no chance of success whilst "I won't" is no chance at all.

Change "I can't" and "I won't" to I CAN - I WILL - I DID! Understand what motivates you to do well then you can harness your energy in the right directions.

Failure is a race or a meet or a task -it is not a person. Failure is not the person: it's not you- it's the performance. Learn to separate who you are from what you do.

Learn to talk to yourself positively. When the negative thoughts come, learn to replace them with positive ones. I can't = I can, I won't = I will, I will try = I did. Remember the old saying, "If you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right."

"The greatest achievement is not in never failing but in getting up every time you fall." Keep trying and it will happen. What you believe, you can, with effort and persistence, achieve. Dream a dream, believe in that dream, work towards achieving it and live the dream.

Anything worth having is worth working to achieve. Talent is important, but there are many talented swimmers who don't make it to the top. TOUGH, TENACIOUS TRAINING makes up for most talent limitations.

Successful people are not afraid to fail. They have the ability to accept their failures and continue on, knowing that failure is a natural consequence of trying. The law of failure is one of the most powerful of all the success laws because you only really fail when you quit trying.



A couple of people emailed me this evening asking if practice was still on.

It is very rare that I will cancel practice being that I live one mile away from the High School.

Obviously, if the school closes then we will have to cancel. When we do have to cancel I will send out an email as well as post it on the website.

This should go without saying but, if you don't feel comfortable driving please don't go out just because practice is still on.

On a related note, people should realize that "Snow Happens!" not only that, but so does illness, excessive school work and family obligations.  All things that will cause you to miss practice. That is why regular  attendance is so important.  When you get to practice consistently it is like depositing money in the bank.

If you do that as a matter of habit then you will have money for the proverbial rainy day.

When you are making 90% or more of the sessions offered you are covering yourself for the inevitable snowy day.  During this time of year it is important to remember that when you are cold and tired and you don't feel like venturing out. You will have to miss practice sometimes for valid reasons, so make sure that when you don't, you get to the pool.


As my own children become increasingly involved in sports, I find myself constantly having to curb my desire to offer my "expert" advice and evaluations. After all, I am an expert, right? Well if that means having lots of knowledge and experience in something, sure I guess I am. But, if expertise constitutes giving my kids the best possible chance to have a successful and enjoyable sporting experience then I have more learning to do. Below is an article that I found quite interesting, I think you will like it as well.                                                                  

 

 

parentchildicon

Parenting is hard, because it’s complicated and full of doubt. As a result, we parents tend to try harder — because we want, quite naturally, to get involved, to fix things. We think it’s about us.

Which is why I love the approach of Rob Miller and Bruce E. Brown, who run a coaching outfit called Proactive Coaching LLC. In their quest to understand what makes a successful parent, Miller and Brown used a stunningly simple method: They asked kids what worked.  

For three decades, Miller and Brown made a habit of asking college-age athletes about the ways their parents had made a positive or negative impact. After several hundred interviews with a wide cross-section of kids, their informal survey had two insightful discoveries.

Number one: what kids hate most, by an overwhelming margin, is the conversations during the ride home after the game. You know, that quiet, strained, slightly uncomfortable time when parents ask questions, give praise, offer critiques, and generally get involved by saying things like:

Great job today. So what happened on that play?

What did your coach tell the team after the game?

Do you think the team could have hustled more? 

These types of moments, Miller and Brown point out, are well intentioned, and often contain truth, but the timing is toxic. The moments after a game are not the time for judgement or pressure and definitely not for instruction (which is the job of the coach, not the parent). In fact, many of the kids said they preferred having grandparents attend games, because they are more joyful and less pressurizing than parents.

But it’s not all bad news. Because there’s a second finding to emerge from their work, and it might be the best parenting tip I’ve ever read.

The kids reported there was one phrase spoken by parents that brought them happiness. One simple sentence that made them feel joyful, confident, and fulfilled. Just six words.

I love to watch you play.

That’s it. Six words that are the exact opposite of the uncomfortable car-ride home. Because they reframe your relationship — you stop being the watchful supervisor, and you start being a steady, supportive presence.

I love to watch you play. 

A signal that sends the simplest, most powerful signal: this is about you. I am your parent, not your coach or your judge. You make me really, really happy.

I love to watch you play. 

Try it out, like this parent did. I know I’m going to. Let me know how it goes.