What Do Parents of Successful Athletes Do Right?

How to be a Successful Sports Parent

A parent asks us how parents of successful athletes have been involved in their athletes’ sports experience.

The most well-known example is Tiger Woods’ father. Earl Woods started teaching Tiger how to play golf before the age of two years old and coached him exclusively until the age of five, then hired a PGA club professional to help with Tiger’s training.

While some have criticized Earl Woods for putting too much pressure on Tiger, history shows that Tiger was able to step up through the pressure to dominate the Amateur Championships and eventually become a legend in golf.

From a mental game perspective, it’s important to note that Tiger was likely able to withstand enormous pressure because he had learned to deal with it at an incredibly young age.

By the time he was a teenager, he was more experienced with high-pressure situations than most older athletes, and he had built up rock-solid confidence from the years of practice and repetition.

A somewhat contrasting example is the story of Stephen Curry, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player.

His father, Dell Curry, played in the NBA for 15 years, and would often take Steph (and his brother Seth, also a current NBA player) to games and let them warm up with the team.

Like Tiger, Steph and Seth were surrounded by their sport from the time they were infants. Dell Curry, however, didn’t pressure his sons as much as Tiger’s dad pressured Tiger.

Instead, Curry encouraged his sons to build confidence in whatever ways possible.

For example, rather than suggesting Steph attend an established NCAA college, he encouraged him to attend Davidson College, a private liberal arts college in North Carolina that had not made it past the first round of the NCAA tournament in more than 30 years.

A smaller college experience let Steph Curry take on more responsibility for the team and helped build his confidence as a leader and a shooter.

In 2008, Steph Curry led Davidson to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1968 and grew tremendously as a basketball player, leader and shooter.

Both these parents immersed their young athletes in sports at a very young age, encouraging them to practice and build confidence.

They tried to find the best coaches and trainers to help hone their young athletes’ skills over the years.

They also happened to have young athletes who loved the game. If either Tiger or Steph didn’t enjoy their sport, it’s unlikely they’d be as successful.

This story repeats itself frequently, with other well-known famous athletes like Serena and Venus Williams, who were picking up tennis rackets at the age of four, and Wayne Gretzky, who was shooting hockey pucks at two years old.

The message: Help build confidence in your young athletes in ways that best suit them. Find them the right trainers. Most of all, make sure they’re enjoying their experience!

Also, help your athletes develop the mental skills as kids to be successful when they perform under more pressure-filled circumstances in high school, college, and beyond.

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We’re certain that, as a parent, you want to help your child develop confidence and discipline in sports and life. And as a sports parent, you’d love for your children to reach their potential in sports. But encouraging your child to strive for greatness without pressuring them can be a challenge.

You can get expert mental coaching with us from anywhere. Meet with us via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone call. With today’s video technology, we are able to connect with athletes and coaches all over the globe.

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