5 Ways Parents Can Help Improve Their Athlete’s Skills
This may dive into sensitive waters, but it has to be addressed. I’ve surveyed multiple people from different backgrounds, age groups, and professions on one of the biggest challenges facing youth athletics. The overwhelming consensus was that parents play “too” much of a role in the youth’s athletic development. To put it simply, parents won’t allow coaches to do their job. I’m always on the side of parents supporting their kids as best as they possibly can. Hear me when I say I’m on the parents side. But as a trainer, it has merit.
I’ve only had one situation where I was told to hold back from the intensity placed on one of my trainees. She was recovering from certain injuries and the dad wanted me to take it easy on her until she healed up. I was very understanding during that situation. Sure, I was slightly annoyed, but he was definitely acting in the best interest of his daughter. I get that. As a parent, I’m sure you’re also acting in the best interest of your child.
With that said, the best interest of your child may be to sit back, and let the coaches coach. At some point, parents will have to relinquish control over their young ones. They will have to hand the baton off to the next major influence along their path. There is an old adage,”it takes a village to raise a child.” That statement couldn’t be more true because of the climate the industry is headed. Athletes will encounter 4-10 coaches during their k-12 career and each one should carry the same convictions regarding each athlete’s development. They should but some will fail to give the proper attention to each athlete. That’s the nature of the beast. Below are 5 ways parents can best support their athletes:
1-Hire A Private Sports Trainer
Today, kids are developing skills at a pace quicker than the previous generation. It’s almost impossible for parents to keep up in the race of advanced technology and methodologies that’s allowing athletes to see much success at an earlier age. Much of that is attributed to the hiring of private sports trainers, and athletic coaches. Studies have shown, that youth who receive individualized training plans improve their skills efficiency, speed, agility, quickness, strength, power, coordination, and confidence sooner than those that do not. To be clear, hiring a private trainer doesn’t necessarily mean that your athlete will play their sport at the next level, but it definitely improves their chances.
2-Limit Their Year Round Sports To A Maximum of Two Sports
Even with COVID-19 drastically changing the landscape of athletics, it’s imperative that parents understand the importance of sticking to one, or two sports. The risk of injury is higher in athletes that play competitively year round. Our bodies aren’t meant to take such a consistent pounding with the switching of various muscle groups. For example, different sports require different muscles to be most utilized. While basketball requires many burst of changing directions, more impact is focused on the knees to withstand the amount of force needed to stop & go. Baseball requires less stop and go, but focuses on power in the arms and upper body. If your athlete is coming out of baseball season, and trying to perform the running and jumping of basketball, their body will not be adjusted with the proper restart to their movement patterns.
3-Allow Them The Opportunity To Rest
As stated earlier, prolong usage and pounding of our joints can cause a variety of injuries at a young age. Parents must allow for their athletes to properly rest so they can be fueled and ready to compete. Because of the prolonged activity, our bodies are wearing down quicker. Allow your athlete the opportunity to engage in non-sports related activities. Below is a list of useful activities youth can enjoy to properly rest: -Arts & Crafts (drawing, painting, ceramics, poetry) -Swimming / Fishing / Hiking / Going To Parks For Walking & Picnics -Reading Books -Sleeping In On Weekends
4-Participate As Often As You Can
I started giving parents an opportunity to be involved with our program participant’s training sessions. I allow parents to rebound, warm up with them, be the passer, run wind sprints, take pictures/video, and even play in games with them. I’ve personally witnessed their relationship grow and deepen. As a parent, the athlete may be at a place where they no longer listen to you when it comes to sports. They’ve officially tuned you out, but you can still be involved by going through the process with them.
5-Remember, They Are Only Children; Not Professional Athletes
And lastly, I’ve seen it done a million times. Parents have too high of expectations for their athletes to be spectacular while they are young. It’s entirely reasonable, and highly recommended to have a standard of excellence for your athletes. Remain hopeful for their continual growth while sensitive to their weaknesses. Five year old athletes can’t, or at least shouldn’t be taking three-pointers on a ten foot rim. Manage your expectations, while giving them realistic goals they can aspire to as they develop. Change them along the way to fit where they are. NEVER crush a child’s dream, but nurture it until it’s ready to bloom.
My wife told me one day that when our kids become a certain age, I won’t be able to coach them. I was upset and appalled when she made that declaration. she went on to explain that she wanted to protect the child-parent relationship I will have with them. She didn’t want our kids to grow up resenting me, or the sport because of my constant coaching. It took me awhile to process it, but she had a valid point. Now, I’m considering it. I will train, and coach, them until a certain age and pass their development off to another trusted professional. My role will then transition to a support role. There’s nothing wrong with that.