Your Role as a Parent
Helping your Child on the Journey through Swimming
Parents play a vital role in helping their children become accomplished athletes. You can help your child by understanding his/her long term athlete development path and supporting their journey through swimming.
Remember, success is long term!
The 10 Commandments for Parents of Athletic Children
- Make sure your child knows that - win or lose, scared or heroic - you love him/her, appreciate their efforts, and are not disappointed in them. This will allow them to do their best without fear of failure. Be the person in their life they can look to for consistent positive reinforcement.
- Try your best to be completely honest about your child's athletic ability, his/her competitive attitude, their sportsmanship, and their actual skill level.
- Be helpful but don't coach him/her on the way to the pool or on the way back, or at breakfast, and so on and so on. It's tough not to, but it's a lot tougher for the child to be inundated with advice, pep talks and often critical instruction.
- Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be 'out there trying,' to be working to improve his/her swimming skills and attitudes. Help him/her to develop the feel for competing, for trying hard, for having fun. Encourage them to improve on the smaller achievable things – it makes a difference.
- Try not to re-live or create your athletic life through your child in a way that creates pressure; you lost as well as won. You were frightened, you backed off at times and you were not always heroic. Don't pressure your child because of your pride. Athletic children need their parents so you must not withdraw. Just remember there is a thinking, feeling, sensitive, free spirit out there that needs a lot of understanding, especially when his/her world turns bad. If he/she is comfortable with 'you-win-or-lose' then he/she is on their way to maximum achievement and enjoyment.
- Don't compete with the coach! If the coach becomes an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment ... with your athlete. Let the coach ... coach!
- Don't compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your child with other members of the team. Certainly never negatively criticise your or someone else's child in public. You will breed a self-destructive environment.
- Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that his/her philosophy, attitudes, ethics, and knowledge are such that you are happy to have your child under his/her leadership. Great achievements have been seen with a strong relationship between the coach-swimmer-parent.
- Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and criticised. Temper your reaction and investigate before over-reacting.
- Make a point of understanding courage, and the fact that it is relative. Some of us can climb mountains and are afraid to fight. Some of us will fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches. Everyone is frightened in certain areas. Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something in spite of fear and discomfort.
- Please support your children and his/her coach by helping your child attend training sessions regularly and on time. If you struggle to get to sessions, you may want to connect with other parents to arrange car sharing.
- Complete gala entries for competitions your child has been asked to enter by his/her coach on time. If you need help with gala entries, visit our gala page and don't be afraid to ask the coach for advice.
- If your child is selected to swim in a league or team gala, you will be notified by the Team Manager via email. The Team Manager has the difficult task of ensuring that the whole team is present at the time of the gala. Please help her by responding to emails promptly and letting her know whether your child can or cannot swim in the gala he/she has been selected for.
- Never question the coach's team selection for a gala. Our coaches know their teams well and will always select appropriate swimmers for a gala. Always remember, the coach's word is final.
Article by Michael Brooks, Head Coach, North Baltimore Aquatic Club: a must-read for every swim parent! Read here: How to Be a Better Swimming Parent.
The Line between Parenting and Coaching
Watch American Olympic Gold Medalist Rowdy Gaines talk about parenting and coaching.