Being a sport parent means walking a fine line between supporting your athlete, cheering them on, coaching them, and knowing when to take a step back.
It’s a rollercoaster of emotions alternating between joy, anxiety, pride, and frustration.
You want the best for your child and you’re willing to do whatever it takes on your end to see your child succeed.
But when is your desire to help them causing them more harm than good?
How do you know when you’re toeing the line of something that might push your child away from their sport for good?
As a sport psychology expert I’ve worked with countless parents to help them understand things like:
- Is it okay to encourage excellence or should I lay back and focus on the fun?
- Do I assist my gifted child in reaching their highest potential?
- If their interest wanes do I push them or back off completely?
I’ve also taught parents how to help guide their athletes through uncertain times, anxiety, mental blocks, and fear.
After all, how can you help your child reduce their anxiety when you’re also uncertain?
What do you do when your athlete is going through a mental block and you feel helpless and unsure?
How do you respond when your child tells you they want to quit a sport they love?
How do you deal with their rollercoaster of emotions – one day loving practice, the next day hating it?
YOU CAN’T! Which is why you need help from an expert.
If you’re a parent of an athlete and feel like you’ve hit your breaking point, I’m here to help.
In my PerformHappy Community I not only teach parents how to help their athletes, I also teach athletes new skills that will help them tap into their abilities so they can enjoy competing again and embrace their accomplishments.
Your athletes get the skills they need to identify what’s really going on and then learn tools to help them become more confident and in control of their sport experience.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mental training which is why I offer different options such as group training sessions or group training along with one-on-one sessions with a mental performance coach.
My team of coaches and I work hard to help your child become a confident athlete in a place to do their very best.
And the best part….You don’t have to go at it alone. There’s help!
Start by reading my article Sport Parenting: The Dos and Don’ts
And then when you’re ready to help your child move forward and learn what you can do as a sport parent to help your athlete succeed, click the button below to get started.Sign Up for My FREE Training
What people are saying:
My main concern was finding someone who could give me the right tools to build my mentality on my own. I left Rebecca feeling more positive and mindful about my sport.
She helps you locate your mental weak spots and gives you the right tools to block out your negative thoughts in competition. Rebecca also encourages mindfulness and meditation to help clear your mind, which is beneficial to those who struggle with staying in control of their negative thoughts.
Rebecca emphasizes a lot on mindfulness and finding ways to clear your mind and be positive during competition. She also helps you to determine if you need to improve your health habits such as sleeping and nutrition to see if they are inhibiting your performance. Lastly being able to talk to someone as easygoing and encouraging as Rebecca helped me to become more positive about swimming.
I would definitely recommend Rebecca to anyone who struggles with the mental aspect of their sport. People don’t always realize it but your mentality plays a big part in your performance and if your head is not in the game you will not be able to perform at your best. Rebecca knows this and is able to help you strengthen your mentality.17-year-old swimmer
Rebecca Smith, sport psychologist, has worked with our team for 2+ years both in group and individual sessions, including parents as well as athletes. Her command of the subject matter is impressive; her delivery of same even more so. She interacts well with our team members working with middle school and high school age swimmers. Having competed in gymnastics (like swimming, a solo and team sport) she easily relates to the differences between training and competing. Her teaching is meaningful, engaging and fun all at the same time.Don Swartz, Coach, North Bay Aquatics
My daughter has been doing well lately. She was very resistant to try your methods at first, but just told me this week that they seem to be working for her. She almost quit gymnastics a couple of months ago because she thought she was the only one experiencing fear and was terrified to try the new skills her coaches were introducing. I started to really watch how I was talking to her to make sure she wasn’t getting any extra pressure from me. Then she found great relief in writing down her fears and crumbling up the paper. Finally, she started writing goals with the progressions that she thought were logical.
I’m happy to report that she’s accomplished a lot of the scary skills that were frightening her over the part month. In fact, she had a private lesson on Saturday and she had decided that she wasn’t going to try any drills for giants. I mentioned that it might be good for her to think about her leaps of faith, but to stay in that 7 range of fear. From that point on, she asked her coach if she could work though the drill in a certain way on the pit bar…. it was her 2nd progression step on her list. It worked. Then she went to the third, and fourth, and fifth steps. I was watching in disbelief. She was so excited and kept exclaiming, “I just took another leap of faith!” I left the gym after the lesson feeling like my happy child was finally back. About an hour later, I received a text from her coach with a video of her doing 2 giants with a layout fly away dismount on the regular high bar. I cried!
Afterwards I asked her how she felt and she said, “I think that might have been flow!” I smiled and told her that she’s been working very hard. I also asked her what she thought about the process and she commented that she had an unbelievable day and that the process works…. but likely it will be much slower for other skills. I was happy that she realized that too. So thank you!!!!!Mother of a gymnast
Before I joined the PerformHappy Community, I was trying to include the mental side of performance into my swim practices. Since joining, I’ve been more focused on including mental training. Rebecca is great with her craft, and has created an open, friendly, and responsive program that I recommend it to other swim coaches and athletes.Chris W., Swim Coach
My daughter was not performing well at meets and had fear with her beam series. She was easily tearful during practice. Now she’s less tearful, and has less fear with her beam series. I like that the webcasts can be listened to if I miss the series, and the ability to ask questions before the web cast through the “Ask Rebecca” forum. Rebecca’s style is very approachable, which allows my daughter to open up about her feelings. It helps that she was a gymnast too, which makes her relatable. Thanks for creating the PerformHappy community!Mother of a Level 9 gymnast
My daughter was struggling with major setbacks and disappointment that were beyond her control. It was affect her mind and causing her to not stay focused on what she can do. Since joining the PerformHappy Community, She is more confident, focused, positive and mentally upbeat. The training vault is the best feature of the community. I am constantly recruiting my daughter’s teammates and their parents to join. This is some life changing information and it gets you focused into what you can do to help your athlete. Competitive sports at a high level are mostly about mental toughness. This gives you a strong and successful game plan to strengthen athletes minds and adjust their focus.Mother of a gymnast
“After few sessions with Rebecca Smith, Luca surely improved his self-confidence, but he also learned techniques on how to manage stress during important competitions. These techniques have been very valuable for him not only for stress management but also for having better performance overall.”Rosella P.
Before I joined the PerformHappy Community, I was having problems with my self confidence. Now I feel a lot more confident in myself by using the training methods taught by Mrs. Rebecca. She has helped me get through my mental block! I have gained so much confidence by using imagery. I use it in practice, at home, and even in the car on the way to gymnastics. She is an amazing psychologist and has helped me through a lot. One thing I really love is how we can chat in the box and see from other people’s point of view on the topic.12-year-old gymnast
“My training with Rebecca started in December of 2014. Working with her helped me overcome my self doubts and gain more confidence in my swimming. Her tips and tricks were important tools that helped me get the time cuts I needed to go to an important summer championship swim meet.
What I learned from Rebecca still helps me today to perform at my best. I greatly recommend Rebecca to anyone who is stuck and wants to improve their athletic performance by focusing on the mental side of sports.”Alice S.
My daughter has become more open than usual in discussing gym. I noticed a difference after watching one of the videos about just affirming how she feels about a problem whereas before I would try and give her strategies to solve the problem. The blocks haven’t been solved yet but I feel positive a new coach working a three way approach is what she needs. I feel the coach needs to be onboard and working with us for us to have more of an impact on the blocking. Roll on July! I like the video section. My daughter is working her way though them. I get positive comments back from her when I ask how she found it. I love to recommended Rebecca to friends! I felt a relief to finally talk to and listen to Rebecca who actually understands the problem and who doesn’t see blocking as attention seeking or being lazy. I’ve waited many years for someone to tell me that blocking is a ‘thing’ and for it be recognized. I have been made to feel like they (coaches) have never seen it before. I am really grateful to have found you and am excited for my daughter to start the new club where I know that the coach will be fully onboard and will help her set a 90 day goal. Thank you and keep up the good work!Mother of a gymnast
“My sons are competitive swimmers and were introduced to Rebecca through North Bay Aquatics. Rebecca and each of my sons met for several weeks.
1) Clearly defined short and long term goals that were co-designed by swimmer and Rebecca.
2) Barriers to achievement, both physical and mental, were given a safe place for discovery.
3) Swim practices had more purpose.
4) As a parent, I learned how to better support my sons as individuals and respect their unique journey to achieving athletic excellence.
If you have a young athlete who has passion and is committed to her/his sport, Rebecca is a wonderful complement to your current coaches.”Steve L.
Your FLOW series is working wonders for my daughter. She is finding her FLOW and I am getting my old fearless and fierce girl back. I feel like with her continuing to block out the negative influences and your program finding ways to build her up might be her mental recipe for success. Thank you for creating this tool. I honestly feel it is our little secret weapon (although I do tell my fellow gym moms about it).Mother of a gymnast
“I began working with Rebecca right at the beginning of 2015, as she was working with my club swim team for a couple of months. During the first group session with her, I immediately knew that I was going to really benefit from working with her. When we began working together one on one, I wanted to really focus on controlling my nerves on race day. I had no problems thriving at practice daily, but when it came to meets, I would instantly freeze up and lose all confidence in myself and my athletic abilities.
Rebecca created a judgment-free environment during consultations, and would always intently listen to me, and hear my struggles, before jumping in with her opinion. Rebecca allowed me to open up about my insecurities with my athletic ability, which I had never been able to do before, as I had never felt comfortable or safe enough to really express how I was feeling. Through her attentive listening, coupled with many words of wisdom, as well as some points of constructive criticism, Rebecca began to lead me down the path of self-confidence and success.
When my situation changed drastically, due to a broken hand and a month long illness, Rebecca did not miss a beat, and rather than lament the training I had missed, and comment on the fitness I had undoubtedly lost, she set up an entirely different game plan for me.
I remember specifically one day when we met outside of a coffee shop, and I was going to leave the next day for a relatively important swim meet. I was so nervous, as I had about 5 days of training under my belt prior to this meet. Rebecca sat down with me, and told me to focus that weekend only on how I felt in the water. I was to not get hung up on times, emotions, or those around me. I also was going to experiment with a new warm-up strategy that we had been talking about in our earlier meetings. That weekend is to date one of my best meets ever. Not based on time, but based on my attitude, my confidence, and my focus. Without the help of Rebecca, I would have had probably one of my worst meets. As a bonus, she came to watch us on the last day, and I remember running up to her and giving her the largest hug with tears in my eyes, gushing about how well the meet was going.
Working with Rebecca was one of the best experiences and best choices I could have made for my athletic career, as well as my life. She coached me on how to be confident in myself, how to reap the most from my athletic abilities, and how to keep my attitude and my emotions in check while competing. I continued on after that meet to compete all spring and summer using her techniques, and am now in college competing, and still using her tactics
I will never forget my time with Rebecca. She is the warmest, kindest, mostintelligent, and driven individual that I have EVER had the pleasure to work with, as well as know, in my life.”Ava S.
We were introduced to Rebecca by my daughter’s swim coach. She has only been swimming for a very short period and entered a very tough age group. When she joined the team and started learning the strokes, she practiced all the time and improved by leaps and bounds. She became less excited about swimming and super nervous at meets when she didn’t drop time. She didn’t understand how she could practice so much and make no progress. No matter how much support I offered, it didn’t seem to be helping her confidence or mind set.
After several sessions with Rebecca, my daughter is gaining confidence and working through some of the mental blocks that had such a grip on her mind. Rebecca’s FLOW technique has helped tremendously. Setting goals and mindfulness training. Being in the moment, not worrying about what’s going on around.
Mindfulness training has worked wonders for her. Being in the moment. Just here and now. No where else but here. Focusing on one thing during each set. Bringing the attention back to the focus point.
As a result, I have noticed a more confident, focused, and relaxed swimmer.
I would definitely recommend Rebecca to others. I think she has many techniques to offer to help the athlete/coach/parent with the many challenges they are faced with.Parent of a 13-year-old swimmer
“I started golfing as soon as I could hold a club. My dad and I played on weekends. Some of my favorite childhood memories were on the course on a beautiful Sunday morning. I joined the high school team and led the way to three state championships. I was excited when I got into my first choice college, and onto a Division I team. I knew it would be hard work, but I had no idea. It was hard to go from being the captain of my high school team to a nobody. I didn’t play in a single tournament my first two years. I got so stressed out each week when the coach was making selections. I kept choking and making stupid mistakes on holes I never had problems with. Finally I had a solid couple of weeks and was selected for a tournament. I got so nervous I threw up in the bushes before the first hole and played one of my worst rounds in years.
My dad suggested I look into sport psychology to get my nerves in order. I started working through my issues with Rebecca. I realized that the pressure I was putting on myself was causing my problems. I learned that my expectations were making it hard to be on the hole I was on. My future or past focus interrupted my ability to play. Rebecca helped me come up with a pre-shot routine that gets me in the zone. I’ve been placing the ball really well. I also know how to let go of a bad shot and move on quickly. I feel much more relaxed about playing and I’m finally having fun again.”Joseph P.
Tricia, Mother of 12-Year-Old GymnastI just wanted to touch base and let you know that Keri had an AWESOME State meet yesterday. She reached all of her goals of getting a medal in every event and she beat her AA score. AND, she also placed 1st on Vault and 2nd on bars!!! She was over the moon with excitement and I am so proud of her. I do want to thank you for everything that you’ve done for her with helping her get over her mental blocks.At the beginning of this season, I couldn’t imagine that things would turn around so well for Keri. Of course you know she had a block on just about every event! She wasn’t doing her back walkover on beam – even with a spot, wouldn’t let go on her flyaway (it didn’t matter if 4 people were standing there to catch her) and she couldn’t do her back tucks on floor – wouldn’t do it on a trampoline either! All of this was going on with the first meet being a couple of weeks away!! You were able to connect with Keri and help her, and she listened to everything you had to say and really worked hard to get her skills back.Now, Keri is confident and happy and ready to move on to level 7!! I can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve done.Thank you!!
“After a 15 year hiatus from playing tennis I decided it was time to pick up my racket. I have always loved tennis and now I had the time to go back to do what I love to do, which in it’s most simplest of terms is running around swinging a racket and hitting a little yellow ball.
However, if you’re a competitive athlete you will understand that eventually the simplicity of hitting that little yellow ball becomes quite the mental handicap. I had become mental about my game. During practices I easily hit solid returns, forehands, and volleys but during competitive matches I couldn’t rely on those shots.
Working with Rebecca allowed me the opportunity to be as relaxed and focused as I was in practice. We worked on aspects that were causing me to become more tense, more hyper-focused, and more unreliable on the court. Using her skill sets helped me go from a 3.0 player to a skilled 3.5 player, and I continue to become more and more consistent on the court. I can’t say enough! Rebecca is so professional and yet when you meet her for the first time it’s like you’ve known her forever, that’s how comfortable she makes you feel.
Thanks Rebecca for all your help! I really love my game!”Larissa W.
My 14-year old daughter is a level 10 gymnast and developed mental blocks and was losing confidence in herself. She was losing the joy in the sport that she has been passionate about for years.
Talking with Rebecca helped my daughter regain confidence as well as restored her love for the sport. She learned how to manage her fears and build mental toughness. My daughter was very reluctant to talk to anyone, but after the first consultation with Rebecca, she quickly changed her mind. She was very happy to talk with someone that could relate to what she was going through and to have some practical guidance for her. She looked forward to the sessions.
I love that Rebecca was a former gymnast and can relate to the issues that my daughter was experiencing. I really liked the consult that enabled us to decide if her methods would be a good fit for our daughter. The Facetime sessions were convenient and worked out even better than I had imaged they would.
Our daughter seems to be much happier with herself in and out of gym and has regained her love for the sport. She has developed so much more self-confidence and has learned new methods to help her problem solve and cope with difficult situations.
I would absolutely recommend Rebecca. No only is she very easy to talk with and relate to, she has effective methods for problem-solving and confidence building. The Facetime sessions were so easy and convenient to schedule also.
I am so glad that I found Rebecca and I really think that she helped my daughter with more than just gymnastics.Parent of a 14-year-old gymnast
“Rebecca worked with both my teenage daughters who swim for North Bay Aquatics in Marin County. Success on race day is more mental than physical. Therefore, she gave them tools to help manage the mental piece of competitive swimming. They both felt that Rebecca was approachable and benefitted from her expertise in sports psychology.”Melissa L.
Since the last time we talked I swam at two meets. I am beyond shocked at my time drops. I had the right mindset going into my races and that helped tremendously. I just aged up into 13-14 and I made area in 100 breast. I am so excited I can barely put it into words.That moment when you can control that voice inside of your head saying “you are too slow” and just block it out like it’s nothing, you know you have made some serious changes. I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for me. I am more excited for races instead of dreading them and almost having a breakdown. I can confidently say my dives have gotten better, and also I just smashed a 6,550 meter workout BY MYSELF!! I had the mental toughness to push myself through the tough set without anyone there to hold me accountable or to push me through. I am so happy!Anyway, I can go on and on and I can definitely say you have changed the way I see mental toughness/mindset. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.Lydia, 13-year-old Swimmer
My gymnast daughter was a tight ball of stress. She loves gymnastics and didn’t want to give it up, but was also putting quite a bit of pressure on herself to move up to the next level. The resulting pressure made her tense up so much that she lost skills she’d had before, she started despairing she’d be able to progress at all, and gymnastics was becoming less and less fun for her. It was really hard to watch her struggle and beat herself up for not make progress, week after week. And yet, she also couldn’t imagine herself being anything other than a gymnast. My support for her was only limited in its effectiveness. I’m not a coach and I’m not a psychologist, and I knew she needed help that was beyond what I could give. Enter Rebecca!
My daughter learned how to think about how she was thinking and what she was thinking, and to question the negative messages she was giving herself. She learned how to remove value judgements from her assessments of herself, and to focus instead on small, achievable and objective things. She learned to visualize her own success, and she was able to delve into the possible roots of her tension. Rebecca also taught my daughter that the mental side of a sport is maybe even more important than the physical side, and that mental skills take regular practice too. By the time we were finished with our sessions my daughter had relaxed. She started getting her skills back, plus some new ones. She was able to return to her optimistic self, and felt hopeful about her gymnastics future.
I like that Rebecca’s work with my daughter was just between the two of them, and I trusted Rebecca to be working in my daughter’s best interests. As a mom you want to be able to fix everything, but you can’t always. I appreciated that, with Rebecca’s help, I could kind of stop worrying about “helping” my daughter and start just being my daughter’s mom. And I’m sure a result of my confidence in Rebecca is that I stopped worrying so much too–surely a good result for everyone in the situation!
Rebecca inspires confidence. She’s a mom herself, so knows how it feels to want relief for your child. She’s also a former gymnastics coach and a former gymnast herself, so she knows that world from the inside, from every angle. When my daughter talked to her, she felt like Rebecca really knew what she was talking about (because she does!). Part of my daughter’s and my confidence in her surely comes from the fact that Rebecca is good at explaining things. She’s relatable. She’s nice. She’s friendly. Sometimes when a child is trying to get over a mental hurdle, the help can actually start feeling like part of the hurdle–just another thing to handle. But with Rebecca, the help really felt like help, like relief.
I like that Rebecca’s work is all about giving kids additional skills–skills that will help them in their sport, but more importantly, in their life. Sports are a great metaphor for life, with challenges and rewards, problems that are hard to solve plus great joys, all bundled together. I really feel like the skills Rebecca teaches are about more than just sports. Kids are going to grow up and maybe keep doing their sport into adulthood, and maybe not. Either way, the skills Rebecca teaches are applicable in a million other ways.
Three other benefits I noticed:
- Mindfulness. I feel like my daughter was able to look at how she was thinking and how that affected her body and even her circumstances.
- Control. My daughter really likes to feel like she’s in control, and being so beset by stress was making her feel like she was out of control. Working with Rebecca taught her that she hadn’t used up all the possible solutions–that there were more things to try! That fact alone made my daughter start to feel like she could start to wrangle her challenge.
- Support. Who doesn’t want to have one more person in their corner? Rebecca was that additional person. She was happy for every little victory and compassionate about every challenge.
I would ABSOLUTELY recommend Rebecca to others, without reservation, for all the above reasons. She’s terrific! Thank you Rebecca! I’ve got my hopeful girl back!Parent of a 14-year-old gymnast
Previously, I had been “choking” when it came to the big important matches. I felt a lot of pressure to perform and lack of focus. The first big match after beginning work with Rebecca was the Cowboy Action World Championships. I had to perform consistently through 24 stages. I was able to keep my mental game together which enabled me to win one title and take second in my other event. Almost more importantly than winning, was that I shot well through both competitions.
She acknowledged my hard work and training, but was able to see that my mental game needed strengthening. We worked together to develop tools specifically for me. I had two weeks of competition. Rebecca sent articles and reminders that help keep me focused.
I’m definitely better at being in the moment rather than letting outside thoughts affect my performance. My focus was shifted from “must win and not disappoint those who have given so much to help me” to being able to go out and shoot my best for the sake of shooting my best. I have tools at hand to be able to perform at the level necessary and tools when things don’t go as planned.
I would recommend Rebecca to someone who is training hard, but lacking that mental consistency.
Thanks for all your help!!!Cris McPhail aka "Lacey D'Oyly," 2016 SASS Wild Bunch Lady Traditional World Champion
I wanted to find out new ways to change my mindset in order to have better performance in swimming. As a result of working with Rebecca, I feel like I am more engaged in my sport, and I am also more excited to race instead of being scared.
Overall, I just feel more motivated to train harder to get to a higher level of swimming. I liked how she worked with me to find specific ways to control my mindset before a race, during practice, and just about any moment of difficulty. Her techniques are easy to remember yet very helpful, she helped me notice patterns in my behavior not only in swimming but in my daily life as well, and I was able to schedule appointments according to when I had competitions.
I would recommend her to others because working with her is very personalized, and there are not many places where you can get so much one-on-one attention in a confidential environment. I’m very glad that I chose to have multiple sessions with Rebecca, and I’m also happy to know that I can sign up for individual sessions later if I ever want to receive more help.15-year-old swimmer
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