Supporting Your Child Athlete – 5 Tips

family soccer ball

Parents want their child to have confidence and enjoy their sport, but they don’t want to over-praise.  How can you best support your child in sport?

Here are a 5 tips for supporting your child athlete:

1. Encourage self-motivation.

Motivation must be cultivated from the love of sports and competition – not from external rewards.  You want athletes to practice and compete for themselves — not to please others.

Athletes play sports for many reasons. Maybe they love the competition, the social aspect, being part of a group, or the challenge of competition. Realize that your agenda might not be theirs.

girl tennis parents

 2. Model good sportsmanship.

If you become anxious, angry, or frustrated, so will your athlete.  For athletes to perform well, the goal is to be loose and carefree, but focused on performing.  Model good sportsmanship by remaining composed and positive.

parents sidelines

 3. Don’t coach from the sidelines.

During competition, it’s time to let them play.  Too much coaching on technique can interfere with the coach’s instructions or lead to a controlled or cautious performance.  Cheer and encouragement are okay, but avoid giving specific directions.

4. Resist the urge to give feedback after competition.

Though it may be easy to give your athlete advice on what not to do in the next competition or how to do better, right after the game is not the time to do it.  Your athletes are amped up after the game and thinking with their emotional brains.  When they hear your “suggestions” after their performance, they are likely to take it as criticism.  Children want to please their parents.  They want their performance to be good enough for you.

Say, “I enjoyed seeing you play.”  Allow your children the time to process the game themselves and get to where they are thinking more reasonably.  Give your children the opportunity to begin the conversation, and they will.  Encourage your athlete to improve upon mistakes, rather than dwell on them.  Help them think positively when they have doubts.

tennis parent and son

5. Help your athlete focus on the process.

Teaching your athlete to focus on the process, the here and now, and focusing on one play at a time will help them play in the moment and with confidence.  Focusing on results can add pressure and anxiety.  Athletes who can stay in the present are more successful and enjoy the game more.

Summit Performance Consulting LLC works with child athletes and their parents.  For more information about consulting and workshops, contact us as or 561-325-8363.

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