As the school year starts up, many parents’ stomachs begin to churn nervously. Fall sports tryouts are underway, and child athletes, or would-be athletes, are stressed. Chances are, parents are feeling just as anxious for tryouts as there kids are. Best case scenario, they make the team and happily transition into the regular season. Worst case is they don’t, and you’re left with a disappointed kid who wants to know what he can do to get one more shot at making the team.
So instead of dealing with a distraught child, CoachUp, a network that connects experienced coaches with student athletes, offers solid steps parents can take to help their children through both tryouts and a successful sports season.
1. Rome wasn’t built in a day, put in the prep
Encourage your child to begin practicing on a steady gradient, from casual to intense sessions, a month before preseason begins. Have him start their practice at about 30 minutes every other day increasing to an hour or two each day the week before. You shouldn’t put too much pressure on him to be perfect, but do convey that it is important to be well conditioned before the first day. Suggest that he play with with friends or future teammates. This will help him get a feel for the competition early so that he can assess for himself how much practice he needs. During the first week, help ease his nerves by reminding him of how much great practice he’s been doing.
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2. Eat, Sleep, Play
Sleep and nutrition are extremely important for your child’s well being in the first weeks of preseason. Make sure that your child gets a great night sleep not just the night before the first day, but also the whole weekend before. Help her gear up by preparing healthy meals in the weeks before and during tryouts. Making great breakfasts and nutritious packed lunches during preseason will show her that you’re there to support her efforts.
3. Pencil it in now…not later
Creating a schedule for your child’s sports season seems like an obvious step, but it is an incredibly important one. List all practices, games, team dinners, etc. along with their times and locations. Consider linking up with other parents to make a carpooling schedule and to exchange information in case of emergency. Securing a time effective transportation system for the preseason will take the burden off your child. Children often feel stressed or judged by coaches or teammates when their parents are late or forget an event, so showing them you’ve got it all under control will ease their nerves.
4. Be a good sport, Mom and Dad
Reacting positively to coaches’ decisions, results of a game, or practice schedules will set a good example for your child. Sympathize and suggest alternatives if he is upset, but do not intervene or create unnecessary drama. Obviously there are always special cases, but use your best discretion to pick your battles. Your child will learn from your constructive attitude, which will reflect positively on the playing field.
5. Put it into perspective
Last but not least, be sure to encourage and motivate your child while putting it all in perspective. Sometimes kids can get overwhelmed with tryouts, and they overreact. If your child performs poorly in a drill or scrimmage, keep her from wanting to quit by presenting the positive sides. She can make it up the next day, or if not, there’s always next year or other activities. Remind her that you’re proud of her no matter what.
Make tryouts as easy as possible for your children. If you take care of their schedule, meals, and transportation, they can freely focus on their games. Your children will be less stressed and perform their best when they know you’ve got their backs, both logistically and emotionally. So here’s to a successful, best case scenario sports season—your children will thank you!