For parents of competitive athletes and coaches or both

Being a coach or parents of competitive athletes can be difficult at times. Therefore coaching and parenting are 2 different arts, so you always have to be very cautious with your approach. Your children are like sponges, and in some years from now you will see in them as a combination of many lessons, values and messages they received to become the athletes they are.

I think it’s important to learn together with your athlete, adapt and also be ready to change the way in which you navigate your child in his or her athletic career.

3 things you need to help plant into your athlete’s minds

There are 3 things that we, as adults (parents/coaches), need to help plant into the athlete minds:

  1. Passion and enjoyment for sports.
  2. Ownership of the activity.
  3. Intrinsic motivation to improve.

Given that, it is very important to have ideas on how you are planning on building a strong coach/parent relationship.

At first, we must understand and build trust with the child.

That’s where these strategies come in handy:

  • Above all, keep kids inspired.
  • At the same time, validate their hard work and empower them in different situations.
  • Also, give them respect.

The rule of one

Another key point is parents need to take into consideration the rule of one.

  1. One person
  2. One Comment
  3. One time

Decide what role you are going to take with your athlete child.


First role is a parent. Be there on the sidelines for your child as a parent and no one else.

Second role is a cheer leader. Cheer for them no matter what. Remember no criticism.

The third role is a coach. Must be remembered, you have to be very careful with this one. If you are a coach in your child’s sport, the coaching must stay only at practices, games, competitions. Do not take to the car, home or other places. In that case, it can lead to burnout in the sport and most important it can lead to you having a bad relationship with your kids. They will start to resent you and go against everything you say as a parent and coach.

Judging from my own experience, it’s hard for me not to coach my son, too. As for me, personally, I chose a role of the cheerleader, but my mental coaching skills sometimes come out before I can think and remember I’m not his coach. Additionally, my son doesn’t like to listen to my advice on coaching anyway. In spite of resenting me as a coach, I have to use different approaches to get the advice through to his head. For example, when we are driving I’ll turn on an audio book that has professional athletes talking on the particular issue and how to solve it, or I’ll have a podcast going and he really soaks all the words through. This is one of the tools, and it might or might not work on other kids.

Reasons young athletes quit sports

It is important to realize, that there are many reasons your athlete might quit. Here are some reasons, proven by studies, why kids quit sports.

  • Criticism and yelling
  • No playing time
  • Emphasis on winning
  • Poor communication
  • Fear of making mistakes
  • Boredom
  • Not learning

It is up to us as parents to make sure our children are in sports environments that accentuate the positives and keep kids in the game. We also must be on the lookout for the items above, making sure that we are communicating with our kids about their experience.  It is up to us to ensure that they are having fun, that sports are not overly critical, that they are not afraid, and most importantly, that athletics is fun!

Positive mindset and secrets of high performance are some keys to successfully raising an athlete.

Pushing young athletes too hard

Whether or not you are/were an accomplished athlete, don’t push your child to go through the same roads you went through or maybe never got to go through. A lot of times later on in life, the kids realize that it wasn’t their desire to begin with and quit the sport even with having all the skills and potential to be a professional athlete.

A very good example of the parents pushing their kids too hard is the Marinovich tale.

It is a very sad story but hopefully can teach parents a lesson. Follow the link to read the story.

Coach and parent relationship

In another case, if you are a very competitive and demanding parent, try to communicate your expectations with the club your child is in.  It is good to have an engagement between coaches and parents.

  • Have a pre-season meeting.
  • Set goals.
  • Outline philosophy, expectations and rules.
  • Consistent communication.
  • Written and in person evaluation post -season.

This has been noted for both parents and coaches.

Given these points, if the coach’s philosophies and expectations don’t align with parents, coaches need to gather the knowledge that parents don’t know and come up with a plan.

5 questions for parents of competitive athletes

1.     List one measurable personal and one team goal you have for your child this season.

2.     What do you want your child’s experience to be like if he/she cannot accomplish those goals?

3.     What would you like your parent experience to be like?

4.     What can you do to help create that experience?

5.     How can the coaches help facilitate this?

Share these answers with the coaches and create a plan for you and your athlete.

If you’d like to create a plan on how to work with your youth athlete, click here to schedule a complementary one-on-one appointment.

Share your stories in the comments or email me. How do you handle your competitive athletes?

Good luck

And have fun with your kids!