Parents of high school athletes have a lot to be proud of. Their kids are juggling going to class and studying, as well as dedicating themselves to being part of a sports team. It’s easy for parents to get really involved in the sports and teams that their kids participate in; that’s great! But when their pride for their kids turns into an obsession and starts to affect the athlete’s experience, then it can be a problem.
While it is always important to support your athlete, sports should not be the child’s only focus. It is much more crucial for them to establish themselves as a successful student; this will take them further in life than sports will- EVER.
When starting the recruiting process, the main focus should be on the needs of the athlete: what they want to study, where they want to go to school, etc. While staying within the parameters of what the parents can afford, the student should have the final choice in where to go to college. Parents need to understand that it is the student who will be attending college, not them. So the athlete needs to feel comfortable in their surroundings, even if they stop competing.
1. You Talk to the Coaches More than Your Athlete
High school coaches interact with parents all the time. Seeing them at tournaments and other competitions when parents come to watch their kids in action is a great opportunity to say hi and talk. But if you start contacting the coach more frequently, you need to be careful about not becoming a nuisance. It’s okay to set up occasional meetings with a coach if you feel the need to discuss something, but if you start showing up at practices and at their office unannounced, you could be causing trouble. It’s okay to want to be involved in your kid’s team, but it’s not okay to disrupt practice. If you need to talk to a coach about your athlete, make sure to set up a time to see them; use it as a constructive opportunity to talk about the athlete and, if needed, to express any concerns you may be having. It is inappropriate to confront a coach about your problems at a game or practice; those discussions should happen in private.
2. It’s More than a Game
Athletics are meant to be a way for students to be active, to develop character, to be involved in their school, and to be a part of something they love to do. They dedicate themselves to the sport and work hard to be a successful student-athlete. They constantly feel pressure from coaches and teachers, and most of all their parents. Parents should be their support system and encourage them as they continue their pursuits. But if you start taking their athletics too seriously, you could jeopardize their future in that sport. Parents who become angry and upset at their athlete when they don’t perform well can have a drastic effect on their desire to keep playing. When athletes stop getting the support from parents and only receive criticism, they slowly stop loving the game they used to, and this happens all too often. If an athlete is only playing a sport to please a parent, then they need to re-evaluate their priorities.
3. You Take a Loss Harder than Your Athlete
All parents want to see their kids do well, especially in the sport that they love and work hard to compete in. But it’s inevitable that they won’t win every single competition. It will be important to be there to support your athlete and not take the loss personally. Their performance in athletics is not about you- it’s about them. It’s okay to be disappointed with them, but not in them. They work hard to do their best and coming down hard on their loss is a lot for them to handle. Deal with the loss in your own way, but don’t forget that the athlete already feels disappointed about it, so don’t add more stress to them.
4. Sports Are the Only Option for Your Athlete to Go to College
Getting an athletic scholarship to compete in college is a great accomplishment, and very few students actually earn one. But there are still hundreds of opportunities to continue playing sports in college, if that’s what the athlete truly wants. Your athlete’s first priority should be finding a college that they can succeed at as a student first. Being an athlete in college is much more demanding than in high school, so they need to be able to handle the school work load in addition to the new training schedule and competition level. If, as parents, you are forcing the college sports aspect onto your kid, you are not focusing on the most important part of college: getting a degree. Make sure that competing in college is one of the athlete’s goals, and work with them to find the best fit both academically and athletically.