How To Be A Good Sports Parent
Sports evaluations can be a nerve-wracking experience for your child. However, they can be equally as anxiety-inducing for any parent of an athlete. While your child might be experiencing a physical or mental block days (or even weeks) before a sports evaluation, it’s important to help ease their mindset so that they can perform at their best!
We provide three tips on how to be a good sports parent, preparing your child for any challenge they face while helping them feel confident before, during, and after any evaluation.
What Constitutes a Good Sports Parent?
1. Encourage your child to practice the right drills
Knowing the drills ahead of time and preparing your child can make them feel much more comfortable during the real evaluation. If your child is about to attend a basketball tryout in a few weeks, write down a list of specific drills they should practice based on last year’s evaluations. If this is their first time trying out for the team and you are both unsure what to work on, send an email to the sports organization ahead of time asking what drills your child should practice.
A young athlete may not hear the instructions clearly at the start of an evaluation or may be nervous when asked to run drills that they haven’t practiced much. However, practicing drills in advance eases your child’s nerves and sets them up for success.
Provide emotional support as well. If your child is exhibiting signs of frustration or defeat while practicing drills, refer to any YouTube videos or articles that provide tips on how they can improve their form, speed, and technique.
2. Get to know the team’s evaluators
Rather than having Johnny’s Uncle or Bob’s Dad from the soccer team conduct evaluations, third-party evaluators should be hired to provide an unbiased approach. Ask the right questions beforehand to the sports organization to ensure you know the names of the evaluators and their backgrounds.
If unbiased evaluators are used, it’s far less likely that biased evaluators will have an impact on your child’s overall score. If the organization doesn’t already use unbiased evaluators, encourage them to do so by starting a conversation before the evaluations, or at the very least, have them consider it as an option for next year. Unbiased evaluators will result in accurate results and a better sports experience for all athletes involved.
3. Ask for individual feedback from coaches
Providing feedback to an athlete on what they did well provides confidence and reinforces positive behavior in the player. In addition, giving feedback on areas that need improvement will help an athlete know what they need to work on before practices even begin.
Too often, sports evaluations are done where no feedback is provided back to the players. All they know is which team they got assigned to for the season but not the why behind that decision. At most, players will be given verbal feedback after an evaluation, which typically goes in one ear and out the other.
Individual reports are one way for parents to have a better understanding of the evaluation process, which provides athletes with a clear picture of what areas they excel at and what they need to work on. Parents shouldn’t be shy to take the initiative and ask their child’s coach for an individual report throughout the season.
4. Steer clear of athlete comparisons
After a sports evaluation, your young athlete might resort to comparing themselves to the “top athletes.” They will often be running through a checklist in their heads of what they lacked (or scored lower on) in comparison to the other athletes.
As a supportive sports parent, discourage comparisons in any form. As they say, “Comparison is a thief of joy,” and this statement holds true. Rather than letting your child focus on what skills another player excelled at, steer that focus to individual feedback. I.e., “Your coach stated to use your fingertips to control the basketball while dribbling, not the palm of your hand. Let’s work on this moving forward in practice.”
By encouraging your child to keep up with practicing their skills, asking coaches for individual feedback, and avoiding player comparisons in any form, parents will create a positive and encouraging environment for their young athletes to excel.