Monday, April 15, 2019

What's it like being a sports parent?

To be honest, I don't know, but from my limited experience of being a tennis coach I've seen good and bad examples. I've often thought about what I would like parents to do and how I'd like them to behave.

These are some of the things I'd tell parents if they actually asked me!

Life is never going to be the same again! 

You will spend time, energy, effort and money supporting your son and daughter as they learn, train and compete. You will be transport manager, kit supervisor and supplier, and many other things. You will watch from the side-lines and, if you care about them, you will probably live every moment, play every point and experience every high and low of their matches.

So how can you best play your role in their journey?

Here are a few things that we hope will help:

1. Remember they are the player, you are the parent. You cannot and should not try to live out your sporting dreams through them. Let them play. Encourage them. Praise them. Tell them you are proud of them.
2. Be the parent not the coach. Coaches see things you do not see. They understand the process of learning and developing. Let them do their job. Ask questions by all means, but trust them.
3. Be positive. No player needs to be told when they have played badly or hit a poor shot. Don't let your frustration show. You can be sure that the moment you have your hands in the air in despair, that will be the moment they look across to where you are sitting.
4. Don't let them think they are ever letting you down because they aren't winning.
5. Ask them how you can help them.
6. Chart the matches: This is helpful to the coach when they get on the practice court and it gives you something to do.
7. Don't offer rewards for winning. This just adds pressure, especially if the reward is highly desired!
8. Avoid analysing matches straight away.
9. If you're not at the match then don't make: "Did you win?" your first question. Ask them about the experience of competing; ask them about how they felt they played.

I'm sure there are more things I'd want to add to list list, but that will do for now. 

A useful resource is this little book: Conversations for the Journey. It's available from Non-Perfect Dad. It's 64 pages long and contains a series of questions creative ways to handle conversations with your sporting child in a positive and affirming way.