As we return to sport with a new set of goals and challenges, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on what we have learnt over the last few years.
There is no doubting that being a sports parents can be a really tough gig on occasions. Many of you need to take this moment and give yourself a pat on the back as you are already great sports parents. Why? Because you are reading this article, already invest huge amounts of time in your child’s sport, contribute financially for kit and training, wash huge bundles of kit and facilitate a schedule that allows your child to participate in sport. For all of this you deserve a lot of credit, something you perhaps are not always given.
Despite all of this there are still elements of behaviour that I am sure we can improve to make our child’s sporting experience even better. One thing is for definite, there is no such thing as a perfect sports parent and even when armed with huge amounts of information, the element of normal human emotion allows us sometimes to behave in a way that may not be the most beneficial to our children and their sport.
Many organisations and coaches have tried to put sporting parents into boxes, have tried to preach about how we should behave and have expected us to know as much about the sporting experience as maybe they do. This without putting strategies in place to make the club, coach and parent dynamic far more accessible and easier to navigate for sporting parents.
However, I am delighted to say that a number of large sporting organisations in the UK have started to recognise this and we are looking forward to announcing some very exciting partnerships in the coming weeks. Progress is certainly being made, I am sure there will be plenty of bumps in the road but we are all starting to head in the right direction.
Parents have continued to be labelled as pushy, supportive, vicarious and the list goes on. The truth is that sports parenting is not that straight forward and is far more complicated than just labelling parents and putting them into boxes. Thankfully, more and more people are becoming aware of this.
As we start to return to some form of normality, I wanted to look at some of the behaviours that make up great sports parenting and some behaviours that we should be looking to try and minimise the best that we can in the coming year.
Great sports parenting incorporates some of the following behaviours:
- Your child is not identified by their sporting prowess
- You provide unconditional love and support regardless of their sporting outcomes
- You attend matches and training but keep a sensible distance from the action
- You help your child take responsibility and do not blame others
- You focus on effort and processes over results and outcomes
- Your focus is on long term growth not on short term results
- Your home is not a fan zone and you do not turn it into a shrine
- You encourage your child to find solutions for themselves
- You provide safe and encouraging support and are not too ‘over the top’
Sports parenting behaviours to try and minimise:
- Try not to make comparisons with other players and parents
- Don’t look to blame others when something has not gone according to plan
- Don’t get caught too close to the action and become overly involved in training and matches
- Don’t live through your child, their sporting prowess is not a reflection of your parenting
- Keep things in perspective, don’t get too stressed over things that are not really a big deal
- Don’t be over the top when your child wins or too down if they lose
- Only giving praise and positive feedback when the outcome is a winning one
- Resist the urge to tell others how talented your child may be
Of course these lists could go on and on. The reality is that many of us will swing like a pendulum across many of these behaviours, they are not mutually exclusive and we will sometimes touch most of them on a milder or even a more extreme scale at some point.
If this is the case then all we can do is try to make progress, strive for perfection as a sporting parent, recognising that it is probably beyond us and try to make our next season the greatest yet in creating the best home and sporting environment for our children to flourish.