«I want you to tell me how to make my son a champion,» «Tell me what to do to make my son a professional athlete,» «I want a coach who will make my son be the best» and other similar phrases are common at beginners’ level of sports by some parents.
By the same token, we have many coaches, who often forget that they are actually working with children – potential athletes, not elite athletes . Week after week in many cases, the only thing that they teach children is the importance of the end result – winning. We must win, we will win, we need to win, we have to win whatever it takes.
The pressure we are putting on many of our youngsters is alarming. Such pressure undoubtedly leads to frustration and overwhelming anxiety, resulting in them , sooner or later, abandoning what challenges them. This extreme pressure on someone , above all during childhood, not only affects one area of a person’s life but ALL areas of life where he has to try to be the best he can be.
Furthermore, this behaviour leads to individualism. It makes the child believe that he or she alone, without the help or advice of anyone else, can do and achieve wherever they want. Have you ever talked to an elite athlete to find out if the way you bring up your children is anything like the reality of high level competitive sport? One of the maxims of the great majority of athletes I know, and in fact, my own, is that without our team behind us – coach, physiotherapist, doctor, psychologist … – success would be impossible. While you, dear parents, are creating demigods, and neither coaches or teachers, in fact nobody at all can correct or punish your children, because if anyone dares to do this, you the parents are there to step in and take away the others’ authority, in many cases in front of the children themselves.
Do you really want to help your child become a champion? If so, encourage your child to enjoy and make the most of each training session or competition. Promote the PATH to the goal rather than merely focusing on achieving it . Foster failure. Yes, I mean it! Encourage failure as a pathway to success. Try to instil in your child the knowledge that no matter how often you fail you will eventually succeed.This will only come about if they are able to learn from each of their failures by getting back up again and continuing to fight. Teach your children to respect their coach, team mates, opponents and referees or judges. Encourage your child to be principled and to think, to decide and to act according to these principles.
Encourage and nurture all of this in your child. If you do so, I cannot guarantee you will have an elite sportsman or a sporting champion, but I assure you that you will be giving them a valuable lesson for life.