Top Tips for Parents of Elite Athletes

Switch the Play's top tips for parents, this Parents in Sport week.

03 Oct Top Tips for Parents of Elite Athletes

Providing crucial emotional support to young elite athletes will help them cope with the pressure of competition and prepare them for life outside sport, says Switch the Play (StP) associate, Eira Parry.

As part of Parents in Sport Week (1-7 October), Switch the Play are running a special promotional offer on their High Performance Parenting Masterclass, run by Eira. The Masterclass will provide parents and carers of young athletes with ideas on how to create an emotionally supportive environment for children as they journey through the highs and lows of competitive sport. To find out more about this promotion and for information on how to attend this masterclass please contact us here.

Eira first became passionate about supporting parents, during her role as a coach for British Rowing, where, for eight years, she worked with athletes from the age of 13-30 to identify potential Olympians. Eira realised that time constraints meant young athletes needed more than a good coach, and the emotional support of parents and carers was an essential element for coping with the pressure of sport.

Because of this insight, Eira set up High Performance Parenting, a not-for-profit organisation that delivers seminars and workshops for parents. For the last four years, she has worked alongside National Governing Bodies of Sport and Clubs, speaking to parents about the significant role they play in ensuring their children have a positive experience in sport and beyond. Switch the Play recognise the important role that parents play within supporting athletes and are proud to be delivering these masterclasses, run by Eira. A common response to her masterclasses has been that parents would have liked to have known some of the strategies earlier in their child’s career.

“Sport can teach a child some incredible lessons and prepare them for a successful and fulfilling life outside sport,” says Eira. “However, the journey can also deliver some difficult lessons. It exposes young people to situations that can feel challenging and frightening. It is important that parents understand the best way to respond in these moments because they will ultimately lead by example.”

Eira shares her top tips for supporting elite athletes.

Be mindful of how you measure success
It is easy to slip into the mindset of measuring success by winning, losing or getting selected for the best teams. The reality is, children will experience losing more than winning so it is important to set other benchmarks.

Is everyone having fun?Sport should have a positive impact on everyone, including the athlete, parents, carers and siblings. If it isn’t an enjoyable experience, something needs to change.

Is it their game or yours? Parents need to be honest. Is the child’s success making a parent happy, or the child? Children must drive their own success, not parents. Be sensitive to your child’s desires.

Win or lose – are they learning positive life lessons? The quickest way to move on from regret is to learn the lesson. Talk to the child about their experience and identify areas that worked or didn’t, but also discuss what positive changes can be made. It is often not what happens to us, but how we respond to it that makes us successful.

Eira concludes, “Parents and carers must work to foster a supportive environment for young athletes, so they can learn life lessons and enjoy their time in sport. “

If you are a parent, club, school or other sporting organisation that would like to learn more about the Parents in Sport week promotional offer and are interested in booking one of our Masterclasses on High Performance Parenting, run by Eira, please contact us here.