Every parent wants their child to be happy and achieve their potential.  The sad truth is, many parents, despite best intentions, derail their child athlete and negatively affect their child’s performance.

We have all seen instances of the dreaded “Hockey Parent” yelling at referees, coaches, other players, other parents and their own kids.  This parent is obviously fully invested in their child – but at what cost?  Their child is suffering, the team is suffering and the sport is suffering.

While the Hockey Mom/Dad might be an extreme case, many parents are engaging in behaviours that tear at the self-confidence of their child athlete.  How many parents drive their kids home after junior loses a match or falls in a performance and don’t say anything, thinking it is better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing?  How many people like receiving the disappointed silent treatment when they have met failure?  That silence can cut like a knife, eroding self-confidence and obliterating any fun or learning that might have been had from the competition.

Many of the parents that I speak to don’t realize how much their anxiety shows and how much of that anxiety rubs off onto their kids.  I have had mothers burst into tears when I ask them about their worries and concerns for their athlete children, only to have them tell me, “I don’t let my kids know what is going on inside of me.”  Rubbish.  We all know when mom and dad are upset and anxious – just the same as we all know when our manager is stressed out.  In both cases we are unlikely to perform at our best.

Successfully parenting a high performance athlete takes more than just love and good intentions.  It takes skill, thought and planning.  Practicing the same mental training skills that the athlete is using can help mom and dad to stay calm, focus on what is important and be the happy and supportive parents that they want to be.  Competition day can be stressful for everyone.  With the right preparation, that stress can be reduced and the whole family can show up with a supportive and winning attitude.

Every Olympian, and every pro athlete will agree: they didn’t get to the top alone.  It took a team of people to get them to the top of their sport.  Mom and dad, major players on that team, can be the difference makers.  Mom and dad need support to perform at their best too.  Working with someone who has experience as a high performance athlete can be a huge benefit and help the family to create a winning competition plan.