Encouraging Your Swimmer

Being a parent is difficult and being the parent of an athlete is even more so. We all just want success for our young athletes, but sometimes we forget the larger picture and get caught up in competition. Remember at AESC, we are looking to develop great young people who compete at the highest level. For this to work, we all must stick to our roles and remind ourselves to do some self-evaluation. Below are some resources from USA Swimming to help with this:

Are you putting too much pressure on your athlete? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is winning more important to you or your child?
  • Is your disappointment obvious?
  • Do you conduct post-mortems after competitions or practice?
  • Do you force your child to attend practice or meets regularly?
  • Do you dislike your child’s opponents?
  • Are your child’s goals theirs or yours?
  • Do you provide material rewards for performance?

Simple ways to make sure you are helping your athlete succeed -

  • Make sure your child knows that - win or lose, scared or heroic – you love him/her, appreciate their efforts, and are not disappointed in them. This will allow them to do their best without a fear of failure. Be the person in their life they can look to for constant positive reinforcement.
  • Try your best to be completely honest about your child’s athletic ability, his/her competitive attitude, their sportsmanship, and their actual skill level. Don’t expect an age grouper or someone who has not entered puberty to compete at a senior level.
  • Be helpful, but don’t coach him/her. 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.
  • Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be “out there trying,” to be working to improve his/her swimming skills and attitudes. Reward effort, attitude, and skill development over time.
  • Don’t compete with the coach. Coaches develop season long plans and are often planning out years ahead of time, if you are telling your child to fix something or focus on something too early it may backfire or confuse them. Coaches and Parents are allies in athletic success so don't be afraid to communicate with them.
  • Don’t compare the skill, courage, or attitude of your child with other teammates or opponents. Everyone follows their own path to success.
  • Get to know the Coach so that you can be assured that his/her philosophy and approach work with your child.
  • Be patient. Athletic success is a marathon and there will be several ups and downs on the way. Remind your athlete that failure is often where we learn more and persevering through the hard times is how to achieve success.
  • Make a point of understanding courage, and that it is relative. Some can climb a mountain but are afraid to fight. Some will fight but run away at the site of a bug. Everyone is frightened at some point. Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something despite fear or discomfort.
  •  If your child has a bad race, make sure your child knows you are proud of them for giving it their all. If they come over and tell you that was a terrible race, try to steer the conversation to a positive learning experience. For example, respond with “Okay, so you had a bad race. What will you do differently next time?”
  • The best thing you can say to your swimmer is “I LOVE WATCHING YOU SWIM!”