Over the last 4 days I had the privilege to watch some of Australia and particularly NSW best young triathletes racing in Queensland over 4 days and multiple formats to achieve results in the series of races for the overall and for individual race results. There was a wide variety of performance standards and this stemmed in part from the age of some athletes as well as experience in the sport. But every youngster was out there giving it their best effort in that moment and we saw many grow and develop over the period of the races. I also witnessed some athletes sink into the shells and become quite downtrodden and sad. In every case, both good and bad, as coaches we addressed things with the athletes and helped them to see positives from the performances and areas they could improve and how they might do that. This mostly allowed us to see a positive change in their mindset and a reinvigorated performance in the next race.
The other aspect to this event was watching and observing the performances of parents of many of these athletes. Again there was a wide variety of these from and the standard moved between supportive to fairly neutral and onwards to overly intense and negative. It isn’t hard to work out from the parents behaviour descriptions which athlete behaviours link with them.
As adults in young athlete’s lives and in particular parents, and to a lesser extent coaches, it is vitally important that we consider closely how we deal with these amazing young people. If we offer support and guidance in contrast to criticism and ridicule then we offer a pathway to success by removing the option of feeling like a failure and potentially being told that as well.
As you know I love a good quote or two and there are several that come to mind on this topic as parent.
“Be positive or be quiet” this applies to thinking for a moment and then offering an encouraging comment rather than blurting out a negative one.
“With great power comes great responsibility” as young people our children look up to us for guidance and support so we have to be very mindful how we speak to them in difficult moments, as well as in extremely emotional moments.
“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” This is really important as many well-meaning but slightly misguided adults will make comment to a child which in some way can plant the seeds of doubt. In critical moments we must choose wisely what our delivery will be so we plant seeds of success.