Had a pretty great opportunity to sit down with a group of water polo parents this past week to discuss what they could do to support their athletes with the upcoming state tournament here in Utah. A few really impactful topics and discussions came out of this session and I wanted to share a few of the because of how profound they were and I hope as a parent you will be able to glean some insight.

In these group environments, I simply hope to help the parents put some attention on their influence and deliberately use that influence to help their athletes accomplish their performance potential. My biggest aim is to expand their current thought process and give them an opportunity to do things differently to accomplish a greater aim. These are a few takeaways from the performance parent session.

How can we as parents respond to a big win at the state tournament?

Note: I had a few of the parents give me some strange looks when I brought up this question because, as they mentioned, its obvious that they would celebrate with them. However, I challenged the group to think about how their behavior in this moment might influence their athletes in the coming summer months and even future seasons.

  • COMMITMENT & EFFORT
    • The athlete will be on an emotional high. In this mental state we can really blow up their effort and commitment and ask them to take a moment to relate this ‘win’ to the work they put in during the season.
  • FOCUS ON THE PROCESS
    • Stay focused on the process even though all they will want to talk about are the goals scored, trophies, medals, and great plays. This means we can blow up their effort, their passing, the way they moved on from bad plays, and the capacity they showed for keeping their heads on their shoulders when a bad call occurred.
  • OWNERSHIP OVER SUCCESSES
    • Some athletes will need help taking ownership over their successes within the game.
    • Ask the athlete 3 things THEY did really well! We are talking things that they have complete control over and was able to execute.

How can we as parents respond to a big loss at the state tournament?

  • LET THEM COME TO YOU AND THEN LISTEN
    • As a point here, most of the parents said they typically had a natural response of JUST WANTINGTO HELP. We talked about how this typically displays itself as the parent telling the athlete what they did ‘so well’ and how they should think about the good stuff. As you well know this does not help most of the time even though you want to help them understand how to move past and learn from the loss.
    • The number one thing that every parent found most helpful in these situations was to simply listen.
  • GET FOOD
    • Get the kids something to eat if they are up for it. We all know what hanger looks and feels like and a loss can simply amplify the effects of working hard for a long time and not eating. Plus, let’s be honest here, who was ever mad about an orange slice after the game when we were kids?

Really do love these parent sessions with the programs that I get to work with! Thanks Olympus Aquatics center!