If you are a parent or guardian of an athlete who desires to play at the next level, and are struggling as to how best support your athlete?
In other words, how do YOU perform when it is your student athletes’ game day? Are you a positive or a negative?
Here are five things you can do TODAY, as in NOW, to step up your game.
1. Tell your athlete "I love to watch you play." When reviewing the results of an informal survey that lasted three decades, hundreds of college athletes were asked to think back: "What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?" Their overwhelming response: "The ride home from games with my parents." When asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame, their overwhelming response: "I love to watch you play."
2. Support your athlete's decision to play more or less: Some student athletes live, breathe, eat and sleep sports – they even want to sleep in their uniforms. Others love to play simply because they like being on the same team as their friends. Still more play just because they want to please their parents. Make sure your athlete is playing sports because they want to.
3. Cheer from the sidelines and by all means DO NOT coach: As a parent of a student athlete, your job is to make sure your child gets to their practices and games on time, that they have everything they need to play and then support them like crazy. If you are constantly coaching your child from the sidelines you are putting them in an awkward spot; do they listen to you or their coach? If you really think you could do a better job than past coaches then take this year as the opportunity to step up to the plate and really learn what being a sports coach is like.
4. Be a total-team supporter: If you couldn't make it to a game wouldn't you want someone to cheer on your child when they play well? Don't just resolve to support your own athlete, support the entire team. Cheer, applaud, give out some high-fives; you don't need to inflate anyone's egos but give credit where credit is due! And please, don't throw your child's teammates under the bus when they make a mistake. It can create an uncomfortable team dynamic between the players.
5. Let the game be over when it's over: Don’t force your student athlete to talk about the game, win or lose, unless they want to. Say something positive and then let them lead the conversation. Nit picking every single thing that went wrong isn't going to change the final score, and chances are it won't make them perform better next time. Give your athlete some time to process what happened and address it when they are ready.
If you can make these five things part of your “game day,” your student athlete will notice, thank you for it, and have a better chance at reaching their goal of playing at the next level.