Supporting your child’s interest in sport involves more than just cheering from the sidelines. Some parents take a relaxed approach while others become the aggressive parent hurling insults at the coach or opposing team that nobody likes. Neither is the best route to take if your child shows an interest in competitive sports. Here’s how to strike the right balance in supporting your child’s sports career.
Focus on Their Interests, Not Yours
The reason some parents push their kids hard in sport is that they start to live vicariously through their kids. Subconsciously they’re hoping that little Johnny becomes the big football star they never became. Don’t make the mistake of trying to live out your sports dreams through your kids. Focus on their interests, not yours. Let them choose the type of sport they are interested in and at which level they want to compete.
Invest in Expert Training
Some kids are just having fun with school sports; others are more competitive. If your child expresses the desire to pursue their sport more seriously, then invest in a good coach or training academy.
Taking the professional route is going to cost money so you’ll need to budget for it. A survey by Utah State University found that parents are paying an average of $2,292 a year on youth sports but that figure can be as high as $20,000 if personal trainers are hired or travel is involved. The type of sport your child pursues also affects costs — soccer and basketball have lower costs compared to hockey and lacrosse.
Teach Them Good Sportsmanship
Kids are still learning to distinguish good behavior from bad and they haven’t yet reached a stage where they are able to control their emotions. That means they may be a sore loser and throw tantrums when things are not going their way.
If your child is highly competitive and sulks when they lose, it’s important to instill good sportsmanship in them. It’s a principle that will aid them in many other areas of life such as work and relationships. Reinforce that no one wins all the time, always remain respectful to the coach, and express praise to the winning team or player. They’ll soon start to model your positive behavior.
Offer Alternative Sports Career Options
Not every child who dreams of being a sports star is a talented player. This may be hard for both the child and the parent to accept but it doesn’t have to mean the end of a career in sports. There are other jobs within the sports industry, such as sports management, sports journalist, or sports medicine.
If your child isn’t showing the promise of becoming a professional athlete, discuss alternative sports career options with them. They may feel crushed initially but explain that other careers in sport can be just as rewarding.
Support Them, Don’t Push Them
As a parent, you want the best for your child and this sometimes means providing an extra push to motivate them. However, be careful not to overdo it. Dad’s, in particular, can become over-competitive and place unrealistic demands on their kids. Sport should always remain a fun activity for your kid. If they fail to meet your expectations, they will start to feel like a failure. Maintaining a balanced approach is important. For tips on how to support your child in their sport, Dr. Chris Stankovich’s Sports Parenting Toolkit is a good resource.
Plan For The End of Their Sports Career
If your child goes pro, there are exciting and lucrative years ahead. However, bear in mind, those years are short. Professional athletes have a limited timespan in a sports career, averaging between 3 and 6 years. The average age of retirement for sports professionals is 33. That’s why you need to discuss a plan B with your child.
Look into other interests your child has that they can pursue as a second career. An aptitude test can help determine where their strengths lie. If they were granted a sports scholarship, make sure they understand that they need to take their academic studies as seriously as their sports activities.
Once they reach adulthood, encourage them to plan financially for the end of their sports career. Most professional leagues provide guidance to their players through various programs and courses designed to help them transition out sports. The onus, however, is still on the player to plan for their sports retirement. A consultancy like Plan B Sports Management, Inc. for example, assists NFL players to plan for the day their professional career ends.
The sports world, even at school level, is highly competitive and can be daunting for kids. With your support, they can flourish during their school and college years and may even go on to enjoy success as a professional athlete — a proud moment for any parent.
This content is sponsored by Ryan Kh.