Sports Experience Belongs to Young Athletes
The main message from Amy Oliphant, a former Division 1 player, mom to four young athletes and youth coach: Sports should be the kids’ journey.
The founder of Transcend Mental Training told us during an Ultimate Sports Parent podcast interview that she never pushes her kids to excel or reach for Division 1 sports. Her daughter was a Division 1 swimmer and her other children participate in high-level sports.
While she didn’t pressure her daughter or other children to play Division 1 sports, she did speak positively about her experience and the benefits of making friends and being part of a team.
Along with insisting that the sports experience belongs to the young athletes, Oliphant talks about the importance of focusing on the process, especially when kids face challenges.
For example, her daughter had surgery just before becoming a college swimmer, and wasn’t able to swim at the level she had been recruited for.
Focus on the Process
“We kept telling her, “Keep focusing on the process,” says Oliphant.
Too often, parents focus on goals such as garnering a sports scholarship or winning as many games as possible.
“There’s so much pressure and a lot comes from the parents. They feel like they’ve invested in their child. The whole goal for many parents is for kids to be that Division 1 athlete,” she says. “But kids can’t perform when there’s that much pressure, they forget to focus on the process.”
Parents can help their sports kids focus on the process by helping them establish goals. While an ambitious long-term goal is important, so are the steps that help kids reach that goal. Parents and athletes can “reverse engineer” these long-term goals and identify the steps that are helpful in the short term.
“Whether swimming or tennis, all these little steps that need to be taken are important. Maybe kids need to go out and drill five days a week. Maybe they have to focus on their footwork. All those little things add up,” she says.
Help young athletes ask themselves, “What can I be doing right now to achieve what I want in the long term?”
Parents should also encourage their sports kids to play multiple sports for as long as possible, says Oliphant.
“Let them play multiple sports. It develops all the muscle groups and allows kids to change pace, from a developmental standpoint.” She believes her daughter would have still ended up a Division 1 swimmer if she had participated in multiple sports for a longer period of time.
Listen to the Full Podcast:
What do parents and coaches say about our resources?
“I think the material on your web site and the communications I receive are excellent. I find the advice practical and the topics that are discussed, very relevant to my own experiences. Your materials are top class. I will continue to study them.”*
~David Wormald, sports parent
Help your young athletes have fun and stay in sports!
You can benefit from our 15-plus years’ of work in sports psychology and sports parenting research. Now, you can tap into our secrets to sports success through a cutting-edge, 14-day program that helps young athletes overcome the top “mental game” challenges that sports parents face—and the top challenges young athletes face. In our 14-day program, you and your young athlete will learn just what it takes to cultivate confidence, focus, and composure in sports!
Through our extensive research, we’ve discovered that the parents of top-performing, happy, young athletes know how to support their kids in sports. These parents understand just how to:
- Communicate with coaches
- Boost their kids’ confidence on game day
- Help kids stop worrying about what others’ think
- Teach kids no one is perfect
- Give kids appropriate feedback after defeat
- Free kids to trust in their own abilities, and
- Help kids focus on what’s most important….And more!