Motivating And Communicating With Young Athletes
Mari, a sports mom of two successful kayakers, aged 13 and 14, says she’s her kids’ sports psychologist, personal trainer, nutritionist and much more.
She contacted us to ask:
Is she too over-involved in her kids’ sports life?
After speaking with Mari, we concluded that the answer is no. But very few sports parents can pull off what Mari does.
Why? It’s really challenging for sports parents to spend so much time involved in their kids’ sports life and strike that delicate balance between being supportive—and too emotionally invested.
Read on to learn just what Mari does so well!
First of all, Mari emphasizes the importance of communicating well with her two kids, who compete at the national level. In fact, communication is a top priority for Mari.
“Ever since we’ve been able to communicate verbally, I’ve been involved in talking about how they feel and the choices they make. Open communication is key. We talk about how we’re working as a team. This communication piece has kept it healthy,” she says.
At the Ultimate Sports Parent and Kids’ Sports Psychology, we agree that communicating well with your young athletes is one of the most important things you can do.
If you’re on the same page as your young athletes—if you understand what motivates them and what makes them happy in sports—you’re likely to support them in the best way possible.
In other words, you’re not likely to push them in directions they don’t want to go (which is a big no-no in sports parenting!).
Mari also asks her kids about just how much they want her involved in their sports life.
“Each step of way, I check in. I offer to back off. They say, ‘No, they don’t want me to,’” she says.
She notes that some parents actually back off too soon, and their children quit due to lack of support. This is all about striking that important balance we mentioned earlier.
Mari has also gained the respect of her young athletes by learning as much as possible about their sport. In fact, Mari trained and raced at the nationals and learned a lot about the hardships of the sport.
Not every sports parent can compete, but this gave her empathy for the rigors her kids face and credibility with her kids.
“I did it to see what it’s like. I found that to be on the water in February, your hands are so cold that they turn purple and expand when you run them under hot water.”
What’s more, Mari communicates with her children’s coach to ensure she has his blessing to be so involved. She does not step into his coaching territory unless she worries that the kids’ safety is at risk.
In summary, Mari embraces many critical ideas about sports parenting.
- Establish open lines of communication with your sports kids. Be empathic!
- Understand their goals and dreams and support those goals—not yours.
- Don’t confuse your young athletes by being a sideline coach. Let the coaches do their work and support them!
If you’d like to learn more strategies for being the best sports parent possible and help your kids succeed, visit:
Kids Sports Psychology
Take Mari’s advice about this. Here’s what she says about us:
“I so appreciate what you offer. You guys are terrific!”
In fact, if you’re already a Kids’ Sports Psychology member, you can listen to Mari’s interview for free in the Expert Interview section:
“Active Sports Parent Helps Kids Succeed”
In addition to Mari’s interview, you can listen to dozens of interviews with other sports parents, coaches, doctors, child psychologists and more!
What’s more, you can download e-books written for both young athletes and sports parents. They include:
- Growing from adversity: How to stay confident after failure (for sports kids)
- 7 Strategies to help kids stay composed after making mistakes (for sports kids)
- Motivate young athletes in sports and life (for sports parents)
But that’s just the beginning. At Kids’ Sports Psychology, you can download over 17 e-books for parents and sports kids, plus audio and video programs and articles.
We help you become better sports parents and ensure your young athletes boost their confidence and success.
See for yourself what all the buzz is about for yourself. Jump over to Kids’ Sports Psychology and demo our online program; developed for sports parents and coaches:
Kids Sports Psychology Online Mental Training Program
Patrick Cohn, Ph.D. and Lisa Cohn
P.S. If you’re a Kids’ Sports Psychology member, please visit this page to listen to our interview with Mari:
Kids’ Sports Psychology Interview with Sports Parent
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