ABOUT BEING A SWIM PARENT
PARENTS...YOUR ATHLETE NEED YOU
Adapted from KISU Swim Club
To have a successful program there must be understanding and cooperation among parents, swimmers, and coaches. The progress your youngster makes depends to a great extent on this triangular relationship.
You have done a great deal to raise your child. You create the environment in which they are growing up. Your child is a product of your values, the structure you have provided, and the model you have been. Human nature, however, is such that a parent loses some of his/her ability to remain detached and objective in matters concerning his/hers children’s athletics. The following guidelines will help you keep your child’sdevelopment in the proper perspective and help your child reach his/her full potential as an athlete.
The coach is the Coach! We want your swimmer to relate to his or her coach as soon as possible concerning swimming matters. This relationship between coach and swimmer produces best results. When parents interfere with opinions as to how the swimmer should swim or train, it causes considerable, and oftentimes insurmountable, confusion as to whom the swimmer should listen to. If you have a problem, concern, or complaint, please contact the coach.
The coach’s job is to motivate and constructively criticize the swimmer’s performance. It is the parent’s job to supply the love, recognition, and encouragement necessary to make the child work harder in practice, which in turn gives him/her the confidence to perform well in competition.
Ten and Under swimmers are the most inconsistent swimmers and this can be frustrating for parents, coaches, and the swimmer alike! Parents and coaches must be patient and permit these youngsters to learn to love the sport.
Even the very best swimmer will have meets where they do not do their best times. These “plateaus” are a normal part of swimming. Over the course of a season times should improve. Please be supportive of these “poor” meets. The older swimmers may have only two or three meets a year for which they will be rested and tapered.
Best of luck to everyone!! Remember to keep a smile on your face.
What Happens If Your Child has a Disappointing Swim
As a parent, if your child has a poor race and comes out of it feeling bad, talk about the good things. The first thing you say is, “Hey, how do you think that went?.” If the athlete wants to talk about their swim it opens the door without you being the one to point it out. Then you can go on and talk about the good things the child did. Limit talking about the negative and only listen to how your swimmer perceives the negative. This will show them that you are listening and you can acknowledge their feelings around it but try to redirect to the positive and help them to think about the positive. If your child comes up to you and says, “That was a bad race, don’t tell me it wasn’t,” there is nothing wrong with a swimmer negatively evaluating a race. The important thing is for the child not to dwell on it. You should move the swimmer on to something good. “All right, you have had a bad race. How do you think you can do better next time?” Immediately start talking about the positive things.
SUGGESTIONS FOR PARENTS
Make sure your children know that, win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their best efforts and are not disappointed in them. Be the person in their life that they can look to for positive reinforcement.
Do not re-live your athletic life through your children in a way that creates pressure for them. You fumbled too, you lost as well as won, you had down days as well. Do not pressure them because of pride.
Leave the coaching to the coaches. They are all trained, professional coaches who know their business. Be helpful but don't coach your swimmer on the way to the pool, at breakfast and so on. Constant advice, pep talks and instructions put a great amount of pressure on the child that can be very difficult for them to deal with.
Try to be completely honest about your child's athletic capabilities, the competitive attitudes, sportsmanship and actual skill levels. It may be your dream they swim in the Olympics, but do not force it on them.
Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be "out there trying", to be working to improve their skills and attitudes. Do not say "winning does not count" because it does to them; instead teach them that winning has many faces. Winning can be time improvement, reaching goals or attitude improvement, not just ribbons or medals. Help them develop a feel for competing, for trying hard, and for having fun in their swimming. Find out what they want and feel; do not assume they feel the same as you do, or want the same things.
Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that their attitudes, philosophy, ethics and knowledge are such that you are happy to have them coach your children.
Do not compare the skill, courage, attitudes or abilities of your children with that of other members of the team. Do not foster competition with other members of the team. We are a team and the best growth for your swimmer is in a positive team environment.
Always remember that children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and criticized. Temper your reactions to the tales of woe or heroics they bring home. Do not undermine their enthusiasm if they are exaggerating, just look at the situation and gradually try to establish an even level of understanding.
Tell your swimmer you are proud of them, no matter what their level of achievement.