Whether it is sitting an exam, asking a boy or girl out on a date, or trying out for a sports team, there are some things that a young person has to go through on their own. Even the most loving parent, or the most obsessed, has to stand aside and let their child find their way in life. However, having a supportive parent in their corner is a definite asset for the athlete trying out for the sports teams. Walking the tightrope between supportive and pushy requires a fine parenting balancing act. Here are a few ideas to help you.
Calm Your Nerves
You may feel anxious about your athlete’s efforts. When watching contact or collision sports such as rugby and wrestling, the anxiety levels can increase even more due to injury concerns. If you are feeling nervous, think how the athlete must feel! Take a few deep breaths and avoid saying anything in haste to them. It is common for anxious parents to talk a lot: it is known as gap-filling. If you are talking about the weather or what another athlete is wearing, you potentially distract your athlete from thinking about the event ahead.
Chatting about other things can be useful on long car journeys to and from the tryout arena, especially if your athlete is nervous. Avoid asking questions and listen to music or the radio as an alternative.
You are probably the driver, the launderer, the chef, and the banker for your athlete’s sporting endeavors. If you can fulfill all these roles successfully, then you are helping them immensely. Even if you can’t be at the tryout, sometimes that is best, then you can make sure that they have:
- A ride or busfare
- Their bags are packed with clean clothing and spares.
- Eat breakfast and have adequate food for the day (don’t rely on food availability at the venue, especially if your athlete has specific dietary needs).
- Fully paid subscriptions/ membership of the organization or club are eligible to tryout (also, giving them spare cash to buy ‘treats’ is useful).
The support ensures that your athlete is not the one turning up late, with a missing mouth guard, and feeling dizzy halfway through the tryout due to low blood sugar!
Prepare Your Athlete For The Path, Not The Path For Your Athlete
Unless you are the coach, you are not responsible for selecting the athletes from the tryout. The tryout process is run by people just like you: well-meaning, doing their best, but with flaws, and making errors. I sometimes see a team where the coach’s son or daughter is the team captain or given the starring role over other players. Still, mostly the coaches show no bias and are trying to select the players that will help their team the most.
Unless you see dangerous or illegal behavior, then it is best to let the process take care of itself. If your athlete enjoys competition and wants to move to higher teams, then make them aware that there is a chance of them not making the team. That does not mean that they are a bad player and should quit the sport. Be prepared for the downside of tryouts: some athletes will not make the team. How will you respond?
If you were planning on a meal out if they made the team, why not take them for a meal out if they don’t make the team? You are not rewarding failure. You are showing your athlete that you love them and appreciate their efforts. Suppose you just reward ‘success’ within the sporting arena. In that case, you are in danger of the athlete thinking that your love and affection are dependent on them doing well at sports.
Most children don’t want to compete at higher levels. They want to play with their friends and have fun. The few who want to get a scholarship or make district and regional teams will need your support in doing so. Their sport will come and go and eventually end, but hopefully, their relationship with you will continue for a lifetime.