It is a given that parents want their high school athletes to succeed in everything they attempt. For a high school athlete the strain of competition both in the classroom and in athletics can be particularly stressful. While there is no way to relieve all of the stress for your high school athlete, there are some things to think about in an attempt to avoid creating more.
It is important to remember the messaging that you give when communicating with your high school athlete. The message of disappointment or lack of confidence can be particularly difficult since building confidence as well as skill are critical in athletics.
Recognition of a mistake by the student athlete is very important. Owning up to the mistake and figuring out how to learn from it is a way to improve for the future and avoid repetition. It can be difficult for parents not to “defend” their child’s action but stepping back is often the best course of action in the long run. Student athletes should communicate directly with their coaches about individual issues as well as any issues on the team and parents should steer clear of involvement in this area.
Student athletes need to be realistic about their abilities and try to improve while working within the team structure. It is expected that there will be frustrating practices and disappointing races. There will also be instances where athletes see coach treatment as unfair and there can be dramatic competition between members of the same team. This is the nature of a sport where athletes are competing for limited spots in a particular boat. Student athletes sometimes complain of lack of encouragement by a coach and may feel like the coach does not notice their hard work. Coaches in general know what is happening with each member of the team (even if they do not communicate this) and will certainly notice if there is a lack of motivation because of an unsatisfactory boating. Giving 100% at each practice is the best way to show individual potential and demonstrate commitment to the team.