Six Tips to Insure Sports Success

As a sports parent I know the challenges I face in wanting on the field success for my daughter. As adults we try to see the big picture and do all we can to help our kids avoid mistakes by giving them any edge we can to insure their success on the field or court.

We coach them from behind the backstop, sidelines or stands because we figure one little verbal tip from us will surely make the difference between success and failure.

If our daughter or son is a pitcher we bark mechanics reminders to them between pitches (maybe every pitch) hoping they'll be the strike and location machine they are in practice.

A friend of mine said to me this week that it's truly amazing how involved parents are today with their kids' sports, given that our parents hardly ever showed up to watch us play (to my mom...you are the glorious exception!). Heck, I rode my bike to little league practice and games. As a freshman high school I rode my bike to 6am basketball practice every day in the dark!
Today, as parents, we tend to micro manage our kids' schedules from sunrise to sunset...including their sports.

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Now you add in the cost of youth sports today and I kind of feel like, as parents, we are managing our "investment" from the stands (or pacing behind the backstop, dugout or sidelines...come on...you know who you are!).

I certainly know that all parent involvement isn't negative. Sometimes parents yell supportive things to their kids during the games. Sure the old "Hit that ball pumpkin" comment is always a "hoot." But this post isn't about the "I'm just happy to watch my kid play...win or lose" parents.

Because of the investment of time and money you and your athlete put into their sport he/she is acutely aware (even though they may never show it or mention it) of the expectations on them to excel on the field/court.

It may be a quick comment you make, your body language after a mistake on the field/court or poor at bat/shot, or an all out "Do you know how much we spend every month on your sports? Between private lessons, travel dues, your new $300 bat; gas costs over $4.00 per gallon...did you know that? And your mom and I sacrifice every weekend to travel to God knows where...and for what...three strike outs and two errors? I just don't get it!"

Hopefully this is not you as a parent, but even the best meaning parents can blow a gasket if their athlete's game day performance is below their "expectations."

Here are 6 ways you, as a parent, can help insure your athlete's sports success:
  1. Reasonable expectations - Be mindful of your athlete's age, experience and competition level. No one who ever played the game was, is or will ever be PERFECT (were you perfect when you played sports??), so be extremely careful to set reasonable expectations for her/his performance.
  2. Help him/her to set goals and a reason for playing the game - With goals and a clearly defined purpose for playing your athlete will be able to summon the effort, determination and focus necessary for him/her to be their best in a sport that inflicts a heavy dose of failure on all who cross the white (or painted) lines. When your athlete can connect their effort (long days, pain, time away from friends) to their desired outcome (scholarship/pro contract) they will more easily be able to persevere through the tough days.
  3. Give unconditional support - This includes supporting her/his team, their teammates and coaches. It also includes you and her/him both focusing on their effort and the process of getting better instead of simply their results. She/he will look to you for approval and they toil long and hard on the court/field. Please give it to them without strings attached!
  4. Allow the coaches to coach -For your athlete to play their best they need to know you support their team and coaches. Talking harshly about his/her coaches during the game to other parents, within earshot of the team or in the car on the way home only serve to undermine your athlete and their team's success. If you feel she/he is on the wrong team make a change, but until then let the coaches coach!
  5. Be aware of your athlete's confidence levels - As I write about often your athlete's self-confidence levels are the single biggest predictor of game/match day success. All of the suggestions in this post are designed to help improve her/his confidence. However, for a younger athlete little things (both on and off the field) can have huge impacts on their confidence. Monitor your athlete's confidence levels by observing her/his body language, the tone of their voice, their eating and sleeping routine and, of course their sports and school performances. Help keep his/her confidence up and watch them soar!
  6. Keep the game fun - As always you, as a parent, can keep the game in perspective for your athlete the more fun he/she will have. And the more fun they have the better they will play. If the sport feels more like a job than a joy to him/her they will feel stress and anxiety to perform, limiting their success.

Parenting is always a delicate balance. However, as your athlete advances in their sport and the game of life continue to be a positive influence and allow his/her success to unfold like a brilliant flower...one day at a time!

The Sports Confidence Blueprint Program is live! If you're tired of your athlete's roller coaster ride of confidence and performance this may be the answer! Free sports confidence boosting audio lessons too!