Nothing makes a great swimmer want to quit swimming more than an overbearing parent. You know the ones. As much as they love their kid they can’t help but offer critiques after every race; “you took too many breaths, stop looking at the swimmer next to you, get off the wall quicker, you’re not swimming your fastest.” While you may be right – you are not the coach. You are the parent. Coaches critique. Parents are supposed to love, support, feed, and drive their kid to practice.
No one can swim fast if they aren’t happy and if they don’t LOVE The sport.
And we get it, parents want the best for their swimmers. We want them to win because kids are happy when they win. We want them to earn college scholarships because tuition is expensive. And we dream of seeing them compete in the Olympics. But none of that is up to us – it’s up to our swimmers. And, unfortunately, having lofty aspirations for our kids can translate into unnecessary pressure on their young shoulders.
Consider a kid’s thought process: “My parents are only happy when I drop time or come in first place. I can’t do that EVERY time. And when I lose they get angry. So I want to quit swimming.”
If your child’s passion for the sport seems to be diminishing, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself a few tough questions: Do I talk to my kid about swimming more than their personal interests or academics? Do I only praise their efforts when they win? Am I providing the unconditional love and support they need? Does my kid know I’ll love them even if they stop swimming?
We’ve heard from a ton of coaches, swimmers and swim parents from all over the world and two things remain consistent among all of their advice. There are two ways to make sure kids don’t want to quit swimming. First, no one can swim fast if they aren’t happy and if they don’t LOVE the sport. And second, let the coach be the coach, while you enjoy the privilege of being the parent.
Swimming is an extremely demanding sport requiring hours of practice swimming back and forth staring at the black line. Our swimmers miss school dances, sleepovers, and sugary treats in order to perform well during two and three day meets that consume their entire weekend. Can you remember how you spent your weekends as a kid?
If your kid is going to practice and putting in the hours with a smile on their face then both of you deserve a pat on the back. Commend them for their efforts and RELAX!
The more confident they are in your love and support, the more they can rediscover their love for swimming – and the faster they’ll go.