How Parents Can Support A Young Athlete

Get Involved But Still Be The Parent

How Parents Can Support A Young Athlete

How Parents Can Support Their Young Athlete

Once you make the leap from regular to competitive sports there is a greater obligation for both you and your child.

Your child could go from one or two practices a week to three or four. There are more games/competitions, more travel is involved, and overall there is a greater commitment to the team and/or club. The pressure on your child to do well may also be greater but ultimately your goal is to help your child have fun and continue to love what he or she started.

Since we’ve already covered How To NOT Raise An Olympic Athlete here’s how you can support your child who is a competitive sport or activity.


And I don’t mean volunteer just so you can focus even more on your child and ignore the rest of the kids. In fact, don't even volunteer for your child's team/group. Volunteer for a younger age group than the one your child is in because coaching young kids is like trying to herd cats and the more hands the better. Plus you have the added bonus of being a small part of teaching kids (hopefully) to love physical activity. In a day and age when more and more kids are obese and health problems are rising, why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that? 

Try The Sport Yourself

It’s easy to be an arm chair coach when you’ve never tried a sport. When my son started speed skating I would always tell him to try and get lower because short track speed skaters have to skate in bent over and in a squatting position which is really awkward but also gives them these ridiculously amazing legs. Oh, and also speed. Then I tried speed skating. Know what I learned? It’s really, really f*cking hard to get lower. I believe the words my coach said to me were, “You’re really not as low as you seem to think you are.”

Guess who never told her son to get lower again? That would be this gal right here. *points thumb at chest*

Teach Your Child The Importance Of Hard Work

Want to know why athletes make everything look so easy? Because they’ve worked really hard at it. Athletes are all sneaky like that. They leave you feeling that yes, you too can do a floor exercise routine and the next thing you know you're icing an inner thigh muscle from doing a cartwheel.

Or, I mean, I would imagine.

Yes, there are kids who are going to start out with natural talent/ability. But whether you have a natural ability or not, it’s hard work that is going to get you where you want to go.

Feed Your Child The Right Foods

Suffice it to say, feeding your kids arena foods on the day of the big game or stopping off for a burger and fries before a dance recital isn’t the best choice you can make. I’ll leave this one to the experts. You can read more about how to fuel your athlete here.

But Don’t Make It All Hard Work

Dear Parents: This is important. Make sure to spend time with your kid(s) outside of the sport/activity they love. This is especially true if they are involved in a sport or activity that you also love or played as a child. If you are only bonding over this one thing and your child decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore, it puts a lot of pressure on him to continue just to please you.


How NOT To Raise A Successful Athlete

No, Seriously. You Need To Stop Doing This.

How NOT To Raise A Successful Athlete

Yell At Them

Make sure you yell at your kids to play/work harder. Like, really loud. Also, be sure to yell at them when they make a bad play or aren’t doing something properly. They probably don’t realize they’ve made a mistake, so it’s up to you to point it out. Loudly.

Note: Sometimes your kids are working so hard they can’t hear you, so it’s important you yell louder.

Point Out What They’ve Done Wrong

The minute your children come out of the change room from a grueling practice or game, be sure to point out everything they did wrong. It’s important for them to know RIGHT AWAY, especially when they're exhausted. Never, ever tell your children what they did right. If they're doing it right, it doesn’t need your attention. Focus on the negative so they can get better.

Be A Coach First, A Parent Second

Sure, they already have a coach, but what does he know? You’re up in the stands watching so you can see everything. Plus, you’ve even participated in the sport once or twice yourself. That makes you an expert. Don’t cheer for your children when you can be telling them what to do.

See: "Yell At Them" above.

Don’t Let Them Have Any Outside Interests

Your children committed to this sport and damn it they should be spending all their spare time working on ways to get better. Having friends and outside interests will just interfere with that. Their lives must revolve around the sport and the people involved. Outside influences will only distract them from their goal.

Make Them Work Through An Injury

Having to sit on the sidelines while an injury heals is for the weak. Why, just last week you typed a whole report with a splinter in your thumb. It’s mind over matter and your kids need to learn that.

Make Your Children’s Dreams Your Own

Sure, you had your opportunity to be a world famous athlete, but for one reason or another it didn’t pan out. Don’t be sad! Because being the parent of successful athlete is SO MUCH BETTER. It’s way less work and you still get the glory.

So be sure to squash any notions of your children giving up. They just doesn’t understand how great it will be when your….errrrr….their dreams finally comes true.


Note: While this piece was written tongue-in-cheek about raising an athlete, it actually applies to every parent of a child who is in sports. In my years of supporting my boys’ athletic endeavours, I have seen great parent behaviour and atrocious parent behaviour. The list you just read is only some of the atrocious parent behaviour I have seen. If you're a parent who has done any of these things, please stop. Seriously, you're embarrassing yourself and ruining your children in the process.

Your children are involved in sports because they love it. For crap sakes, simply let them enjoy it.

It's not your job as a parent to make your children the best, it's your job to help them always do their best. You had your shot at becoming the best {insert your dream here} and it didn’t happen. Get over it and stop trying to live vicariously through your kid.


Hey! Since you're no longer trying to live vicariously through your child, why not try one of these sports. Or how about making life fun and enjoying time with your family with these Ten Easy Ways To Get Active With Your Kids.



With So Many Races To Choose From, How Do You Decide?

Three Ways You Can Pick Your Next Race

With So Many Races To Choose From, How Do You Decide?

Three Ways To Choose Your Next Race

From April to September I signed up to do seven races.

  • Two 10k runs
  • Two triathlons
  • Two obstacle races
  • One half marathon

The reality is I could do two to three races or events every single weekend—that’s how many there are. 5k, 10k, obstacle races, half marathons, full marathons, bike races, triathlons, duathlons, Gran Fondos, charity events.

There are events where you leave coloured like a rainbow, races that leave you covered in mud, fast sprints and long runs, the possibilities are endless.

With such a short season and so many races to choose from, how do you select which ones you’ll participate in?

I’ll let you in on my little method:


Make It Meaningful

I always choose to participate in a few charitable events throughout the year. This year I’m taking place in the H.E.R.O.S. Challenge and the Bike For Tykes spinning event. I chose the H.E.R.O.S. challenge because my son has been raising money for our local Canadian Cancer Society office since he was six years old, and I like the idea of supporting a cause he supports.

The Bike For Tykes is a spinning event in Toronto, and I was asked to be an ambassador. I didn’t hesitate because they are partnered with Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, and once you read the stories from the Bike For Tykes child ambassadors, you can’t help but be moved. I’m riding for little Hunter Kemp.

If You’re Going To Choose A Charitable Event:

1) Make it an event that has meaning for you on a personal level.

2) Do your research and ensure you know where the funds you raise are going. A good place to start is this 2013 list of 100 Canadian charities and how they are graded on spending efficiency, fundraising costs, governance and transparency, and cash reserves.

3) Don’t inundate your friends/family with requests for money or you will become the annoying person they all avoid. True story.

Challenge Yourself

This year I challenged myself by signing up for a Half Marathon (gulp) and the Spartan Race Sprint, which is a 5k obstacle course. Both were to challenge me in different ways. The Half Marathon because I haven’t run one in ten years, and the Spartan Race because I am a T-Rex and have the upper body strength of Monty Burns.

I, unfortunately, couldn’t do the Spartan Race due to illness, but I’m still gearing up for my Half Marathon in September.

If You’re Going To Choose To Challenge Yourself: 

1) You want challenging, not impossible. Set realistic goals for yourself. Don’t sign up for a marathon that’s five weeks away when you’ve never run before.

2) Have a friend sign up with you. While going it alone is not impossible, having a buddy system will make you more accountable, which means you’ll be less likely to skip your training.

Use Your Races For Training

Training for a 10k? Why not sign up to run a couple of 5k races? Doing a Grand Fondo bike tour? Take part in a few shorter distance bike races leading up to it.

Part of my half marathon training is a 15k race in August. If I’m going to have to run 15k as part of your training, why not make it fun, right?

And make no mistake, these events are fun. There's a great energy in the air, and let us not forget the amazing feeling you have when you cross the finish line.

So sign up for a race, take it all in, enjoy the journey, and don’t forget to smile.

I'll see you at the finish line.

If you liked this you may also like Ten Easy Ways To Get Active With Your Kids and Lessons I Learned Running An Obstacle Race.