Is your child crazy about sports? Do they want to play sports at a competitive level? By supporting your child in the right way, you can nurture their passion for sport and help them to achieve their goals. Here are just a few tips for helping to support a sporty child.
Understand their goals
Some kids have ambitions of becoming a professional athlete, whilst others simply want to play sports for the joy of it and aren’t interested in taking things further. It’s important that you understand their goals so that you don’t hold them back or become too pushy.
If your child wants to go far in the sport but is struggling, you should try and encourage them to get better. If your child has the potential to excel, but doesn’t want to, you should still offer positive encouragement, but must not force them into joining a better club or taking part in competitions if they really don’t want to.
Confidence is essential in sport – by believing in yourself, you can learn to brush off failures and keep striving for success. As a parent, you need to help your children believe in themselves. Don’t put so much pressure on winning or losing, but instead focus on improving effort and personal performance.
Learn to read your child’s emotions so that you know when to praise and when to give criticism. If they’re getting a little overconfident about their ability, you may be able to offer criticism more freely. If they’re feeling down and demotivated, you may want to build them up with more compliments. Criticism should always be constructive and praise should always be honest.
Talk to their coach
If your kid is part of a team or a club, it’s worth having a talk with your child’s coach to get an idea of what they think of your child’s ability. If you yourself don’t have much knowledge of the sport, this can be useful as it could also help you to understand your child’s passion a little more clearly.
A good coach will always allow time before or after the session to talk with parents. If you don’t have the time to wait around, you may still be able to contact them on their phone to better understand how your child is doing.
Help them maintain the right diet
A child that is really into sports will need the right diet. This is particularly important as they move into adolescence and the physical expectations rise.
The most obvious rule is to cut down on junk food and to promote more healthy meals made with unprocessed foods. A good mix of proteins, carbohydrates and fibres are needed to release the right amount of energy needed. You can find food ideas for young athletes online. A good sports coach may also be able to offer advice.
Keeping your kids hydrated is also important. This may include water as well as sports drinks.
Know how to behave at competitive events
It’s important that you know how to behave at a competitive event in order to motivate your kids to succeed. The wrong type of behaviour could put your kids off.
Before a competitive event, most kids want their parents to provide a sense of calm. If you’re rushing to get to an event and getting stressed out, it could have a negative impact on your child’s performance as they too could get stressed out, so make sure to leave enough time to get there. Avoid pressurised pep talks too – you may be better off not talking about the event at all if they’re nervous.
During the event, you should offer positive encouragement. Most children like to be cheered on, although some may prefer to get in the game without too many distractions. Avoid yelling too much advice or getting angry at other players/the ref as you may cause embarrassment.
After the event, try to be supportive and wholly positive. Don’t offer criticism straight away – even if they won, you should let them enjoy the victory before offering criticism. Some kids may not want to talk about the event at all afterwards if they lost and sometimes its best to just offer a distraction of some kind such as treating them to ice cream or a milkshake on the way back home.
Can’t afford to fund their sport? Look into sponsorship
The cost of supporting a child’s sporting hobby can take its toll on some families. In the case of a gifted child that shows sporting promise, you may be able to get sponsored funding. Local charities may be able to provide this. Alternatively, you may be able to raise some money online for equipment or for coaching.
It’s important to always give new sports some time before investing money into them, so that you know your child is truly passionate and that it’s not just a brief phase. Coaches will likely be sympathetic and may be able to offer a trial period with cheaper prices or may allow kids to borrow equipment at first.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.