Wanting Their Success Too Much

One of the traps that many parents fall into is in wanting their athlete’s success too much. It is, for you dads and moms, almost like you are playing the game yourself through your athlete; if you are coaching your athlete this challenge can be exponentially greater. When I was coaching my daughter every game was a lethal combination of pleasure and pain. I would live and die on every one of her at bats. It was as if her success or failure was mine. Does that sound familiar to you?

Even if you do not coach your athlete the challenge of wanting his/her success too much is something you should look at for yourself and/or spouse or other family members. Even if you were the best athlete of your generation it is your athlete and not you playing the game. She/he must make his/her own way which means making mistakes and not being perfect. Remember, mastery is a journey not a destination. It’s funny in my own head, when I critique my own daughter on her performance, I selectively forget how often I struck out, made errors in the field and walked hitters on the mound when I played the game. Do you do the same thing?

All your athlete needs and desires from you is unconditional support and love—whether he/she goes 4-4 or 0-4; scores 20 or scores zero; gives up two goals or gets a shutout; throws to TD passes or two INTs (you get the idea!). It’s time to stop taking your athlete's successes and failures so personally. 

In a future blog I will cover the importance of your athlete’s ability to recognize the factors she/he has and does not have control over. Well I would say the same thing to you…you have no control over how your athlete performs on the field. Sure you may spend countless hours working with him/her on their game, and that is admirable. However, when he/she puts the uniform on and crosses the white lines (or whatever the analogy is for your athlete's sport) it is far more healthy for you and for him/her if you can “let go” of injecting yourself into his/her performance and allow him/her to be the athlete, not you.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, and believe me this has been a hard one for the old athlete in me, but your playing days are over! Let him/her have his/her day in the sun without you willing every outcome in the game to go their way.

If you can remain calm and a somewhat impartial observer at your athlete’s games (good luck with that, right?) both you and he/her will enjoy the game a whole lot more. Sure it’s exciting and tremendously fulfilling to see your athlete succeed, but what about when the emotional roller coaster dips when he/she fails. How does that feel for you? Wanting your athlete's success too much can begin to make the game unpleasant for both of you. So enjoy watching your athlete play and achieve success on his/her own without feeling the need to will it for him/her!