It’s a parent’s job to be a perpetual cheerleader for the entire family. Parents need to find ways to pull out the best abilities in education, pursuit of the arts and socially. However, the most prominent place where we see the power of a parent’s cheer-leading abilities is on the sidelines, in the bleachers, on the pool deck and alongside the coaches.
Are you one of those parents or do you feel like you have room for improvement? Here are some ways that we show our support for our daughters’ athletic endeavors:
Be Realistic: Don’t Over Exaggerate Your Athlete’s Abilities
Our daughters are athletic and we encourage them to do their best, but we don’t over inflate their expectations. In a time where everyone is awarded ribbons for their efforts and told that everyone is equal on and off the field, we stood firm with our position that some kids were better in school, some in arts and others in athletics.
Both our girls were on the swim team when they were younger, but they didn’t have the physique to be superstars. We cheered and supported them when they did well, encouraged them to work hard if they wanted to improve, but didn’t inflate their egos with “You’re the best swimmer EVER and might be in the Olympics some day!” Because, honestly, we knew that wasn’t the case. Madison qualified for state in the backstroke her first year, but in subsequent years the coaches didn’t see enough potential to give her the attention she needed. Swimming was fun for her and her work paid off when she made it to state a few years later. Did we see Olympics in her future? No. An athlete others can look up to? Definitely! She worked hard to achieve personal bests and that was perfect. It taught her that success doesn’t come easily. While this may sound like a callous approach, it’s one of the best pieces of advice a parent should grasp. If you constantly tell your athlete how great they are, how they are the best at something, then you aren’t encouraging them to work harder. Be realistic and find ways to help them achieve their own level of awesomeness.
Remind Them to Have Fun
First and foremost, these are young athletes. Yes, sports are important, but it’s possible to work hard at something and still have fun. As they work to build confidence in their abilities, remind your athlete that goals are important and recognizing that passions for anything can only survive if they love what they are doing.
Ask Your Young Athlete How Much Support They Want
When my girls were little they wanted us on the sidelines cheering them on. They asked us to volunteer in their classrooms. They encouraged us to sign up for field trips. As they got older, they wanted our encouragement, but not our over-attention. Their independence was part of their ability to grow as an athlete as well as person.
Arm them with the Tools They Need
Regardless what sport or activity your athlete invests their efforts in, be 100% supportive. Sure, it’s okay to purchase beginner swim goggles and entry-level equipment when they start. But if your athlete is sticking with it, dedicating the energy and commitment to the sport then give them the tools that are going to help them succeed. Get special racing goggles, proper protective equipment, a glove that fits their hand, whatever.
Replenish Their Bodies
Talk to the coaches and trainers about how to handle any aches and pains that may occur as part of the training process. The day before a game or big event, be sure to fuel the body with complex carbohydrates and water. Spaghetti is always a hit. During meets, games and even during training, keep a supply of beverages to keep hydrated. POWERADE is a favorite of our active athletes. It comes in great tasting flavors and has been helping keep athletes hydrated for decades. POWERADE ZERO features the same hydration benefits of classic POWERADE but with ZERO calories.The ION4® Advanced Electrolyte System helps replenish four electrolytes lost in sweat: sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium and POWERADE is formulated with a 6% carbohydrate solution to help provide energy to working muscles, and vitamins B3, B6 and B12.
Sneak in Fun Inspiration
Training and practices can be difficult and often even boring, so keeping things interesting is always helpful to motivation. Spend a little extra and spring for that surprise workout outfit or keep it simple and pick up a new water bottle. You can pick up something at the store or get something more personalized (that their friends won’t likely have!) If you’re already buying POWERADE anyhow, you can take advantage of this Free “Just a Kid” Sports Bottle promotion with Walmart and POWERADE! From now until April 4th (or while suppies last), when shoppers purchase two 8-packs of 20 oz POWERADE at Walmart, they’ll be able to go online, submit their receipt, and order a free custom “Just a Kid” reusable sports bottle. You can also purchase “Just a Kid” apparel with all net proceeds going to Boys and Girls Club of America!
There’s inspiration and potential in everyone, it’s simply a matter of harnessing, nurturing and aiding it on the way there. What tips do you have for supporting and encouraging your young athlete to achieve their own level of awesomeness?