Your child has been attending his sports lessons and practices regularly. From a beginner with zero knowledge and skills, you have seen him blossom into an exceptional young athlete, full of promise and potential.
Now, his coach is telling you that he is ready to take the next step – to compete with his fellow young athletes.
Ready to make the jump
But how do you really know it’s time for him to take the next inevitable step as a young athlete?
Each child is unique, and readiness for a competition will vary from one kid to another. Some have the natural knack for their chosen sports that they seem ready to compete with only a few weeks or months of lessons and training. There are others who are just content with weekend lessons and practice and don’t care much about testing their mettle against their peers.
One key factor in determining if your child is ready to compete is his mastery of the skills and rules of his chosen sport. Before entering the arena for competition, he must first develop the necessary skills and understand the rules of the game. Jumping headlong into competition without mastering the two can put undue pressure on a kid.
Next, observe your child. Does he take the initiative to train, even when he is by himself? Some kids easily fall in love with their chosen sport that they take every opportunity to hone their skills.
Check his physical fitness. Practicing is different from competition. Again, some kids have the innate talent and physical gifts that are possessed by the greats. However, if your child is not yet physically ready, he can succumb to injuries or lose interest altogether due to burnout.
Parents should also be mindful of the fact that preparing for competition means that your child needs extra time for skill work and conditioning. That simply means that your child will need the proper support and guidance that will allow him to balance his time for school, sports, socialization, and home life.
Ready or not, parents should avoid putting undue pressure on their children. Even if you and his coach think that he is physically prepared for the rigors of competition, you should still try to determine if he is emotionally prepared for the next level.
Helping your child prepare
If you think that your child is ready to compete, here are a few things that you can do as a supportive parent.
Don’t impose expectations
You’re probably excited that your child is taking the next step as an athlete. And rightly so because you have been there with him since the beginning of his journey.
And while you want your kid to succeed, avoid imposing any expectations on him. In competitions, there are several things that are at play; most of these are beyond your or your child’s control. And if you impose unnecessary expectations on him, he might feel anxious before the day of the competition. This can negatively impact his concentration or focus and overall performance.
Avoid offering him rewards or other forms of incentives to win. You might think that this will serve as a motivation for him, but these can backfire and put undue pressure on him.
Keep him well-rested
One rookie mistake that parents of athletes make is to think that their kids need extra time for practice and strength and conditioning work; the opposite is true.
The truth is seasoned athletes wind down their training and practice during the days leading to the actual competition. Ideally, he shouldn’t undergo full training at least two days before the sports event. This will help him become more rested and relaxed for the competition.
Do not change anything in your daily routine
You’ve probably heard about how superstitious professional athletes are, from wearing the same articles of clothing or carrying lucky charms to their lockers. While these may seem absurd, there’s some logic to these practices.
Changing even the slightest detail to an established routine can throw your child’s preparations off. For example, if you prepare a dish that you didn’t know that your child is allergic to, he might fall ill. Or if he tries a new training regimen, he might get injured, leading to him being excluded from the competition. Stick to what has worked for him before and don’t try anything new. Leave that for after the event.
But apart from that, avoid talking about the upcoming event. Again, just stick to your regular routine at home. This gives him enough space to separate himself from the anxiety of competing and gives him the time to keep himself relaxed and calm.
What’s the best thing that you can do to show that you support your child? Relax, keep yourself calm and just tag along with your kid in this new journey that he will take. Remember, kids can pick up the energy their parents give off, whether verbally or through body language. Make your home a sanctuary against the pressures and anxiety of competing.
Possessing more than two decades of experience in the leisure and hospitality industry, Tony Kouris joined Zayed Sports City as General Manager in January 2018. With extensive career experience, a value on interpersonal relationships, and strong negotiating experience, he is positioned to support Zayed Sports City’s strategic growth and continue to innovate the site as an internationally recognised sport and entertainment destination.