Today’s Topic: How to be a Supportive Parent to Your Athlete
The Car Ride Home is the Worst Part
If you have watched a lot of our videos, or have done research on how to be a supportive parent to your athlete, you’ve probably heard about the car ride home. The big thing about it is to be really supportive. When people have interviewed athletes, former and current, about the worst part of sports, they tend to say the car ride home is the worst thing.
When an athlete does poorly, they dread getting in the car and having to talk about it. If their parents tell them they performed badly, that something sucked, and that they could have done something better, it drags them down.
As parents, it’s okay. I’m a parent, too. I have two kids, a 10 year old and an 8 year old. We want to be there to help. We want to be there to support, we want to be there to make things easier, right?
Be Their Support
As a parent, you may be tempted to dissect it on the car ride home to try to help them. You just have to be that person that’s there to support. I learned this when my son broke his arm. We were sitting in bed one night after he’d just gotten his cast on, and he was crying in pain, telling me how much it sucked.
For me, I was sitting there, and the first time I looked at him I knew there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t be ET, make my finger glow, and make his arm repair. I couldn’t be Harry Potter and cast a spell and fix it. The only thing I could do was just sit there, be supportive, listen to him, have him cry it out, hug him, hold him, and be there for him.
Just be There
On the car ride home, just be there for your kid. Listen to them and let them vent. Maybe they don’t want to say anything at all, or maybe if they do want to bring up the game, allow them to just talk about it.
The car ride home is so important, but the other side I want to talk about is the car ride to games and practices.
The Car Ride to Practice
To me, that’s just as important and I think it gets overlooked. As parents and athletes, I want you to think about driving to games. What are you thinking about? What are you guys talking about with your kids? And athletes, what are you thinking about?
What about when you go to practice? Parents, what are you focusing on? Are you thinking about the games? Are you guys thinking about nothing at all?
Going is the Easy Part, Arriving is Another Thing
With the athletes I talk to, when they go to games, they are talking about the game with their parents. They’re strategizing, going over checklists, going over goals, and they’re getting in their heads. They’re thinking they’re prepared, but when they get out of the car, they start warmups and they get this paralysis.
In the sports psychology world, they call it “the yips”, paralysis by over analysis. If athletes cram in all of this information before the game, the moment they try to go, they get stuck, or they perform poorly. This is where supportive parents come to see me and say, “My kids are amazing when they practice. They are super talented, they play on these competitive teams, but when they go and play in games, something happens. They turn into a different person.”
This is really where the heart of it all is, going to games. One thing you can start doing as parents, and as athletes, instead of cramming in knowledge and cramming in strategy, ride like when you go to practice.
Pretend You’re Headed to Practice
When most athletes are being driven to practice, they’re not thinking about goals or strategies, how to win the game, or how to be the best in practice.
They’re driving with their parents, and a lot of times they’re just listening to music. Some athletes tell me they’re singing along to the music with their parents. Others are listening to comedy radio, and some are just talking about school. I have an athlete that talks to his mom about school. They talk about gossip that’s happening at school. They just talk about everything related to nothing. Just fun little things that happened during the day, nothing that relates to sports.
Again, remember that when kids go to practice, they’re relaxed, because they’re having fun. They’re enjoying themselves and they’re getting that mindset where they’re clearing their thoughts from the day so they can get out there and just play.
Keep Your Athlete Relaxed
We want to do the same thing as parents and athletes when driving to a competition. In big games, when we drive in the car, let’s just listen to music, let’s relax. Let’s just do the things that make us feel good. Do those things that are relaxing so when your kids get out of the car, they’re ready to just play in the moment, and they’re not overthinking what they need to do.
That’s my session for today. If you have more questions, please contact me or one of the high performance coaches here. Get a 20 minute free consult, and we can answer more of these questions based off of the Facebook Live session. Take care!