Raising a student athlete is incredibly exciting. Sports can open up so many opportunities for young people, and instills positive values in kids that might not go on to play sports as a career. It can be very rewarding to invest in ways to help a student athlete succeed, from training programs to youth sports summer camps. However, there can also be challenges that come along with raising a student athlete, so check out these tips to help them not just survive, but thrive.
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Focus on Fun
There’s a reason a child gets into playing sports in the first place: having fun. If having fun isn’t a top priority anymore, it could be time to refocus. Try and remind a student athlete of the initial fun of a sport as often as possible. Winning is fun, but being on a winning team or being the best one on the team shouldn’t be the biggest motivators. If those things go away, then so does the initial draw of the sport. Try and remind a student athlete that it can be rewarding to improve at a skill; to stay fit and feel good; to make friends in a high-energy environment. That way, if and when losses arrive, those other positive factors are still very much intact.
When those aforementioned losses do arrive, positivity can be a powerful tool. A parent has a different role from a coach. While the coach can be the one to apply pressure and point out mistakes, a parent doesn’t have to double onto that. Rather, presenting as a positive source and reminding a student athlete that the home is not a place for added criticism can help maintain a happy mindset towards the sport. Emphasize that a child’s self-worth is never dependent on winning or losing a game, and while sports can be great, they are definitely not all there is to life.
It can be easy for loving parents to see their child succeeding in a sport and start to believe that they can achieve anything. Again, it’s great to be positive and encouraging, but staying realistic can also be extremely beneficial to a young athlete. Most athletic careers are over at the end of high school, and that’s okay. If a child makes a decision to stop playing a sport, try and circle back to that same support that applied when they were doing great. With these helpful tips, a budding sports career can be a happy one.