Sports psychology for parents is an important component for helping kids perform at their best. I often get questions from parents of young athletes wanting to know how they can positively contribute to their child’s athletic development and if they are doing anything that might be causing problems.
In my sports psychology practice, I usually meet with the parents and young athlete separately and together. It is not unusual to get differing stories as to what the problems are and what causes them.
In most cases, sports psychology for parents involves a few sessions of helping them better understand how I will evaluate and work with their child along with educating them about some specific things they might want to do more of or less of. In some situations one or both parents may be inadvertently causing or contributing to their child’s problem. One parent thought he was helping his kid reach his goal to become a star tennis player on his high school team. After a full day of school and 2-3 hours of practice, he would come home at which point he father would insist that he serve 300 tennis balls before dinner! The kid got burnt out and quit the tennis team. Some parental behaviors are more subtle, like grimacing whenever the player makes a mistake. Sometimes parents fail to intervene when they should, like a child throwing a tantrum on the court or throwing a racket in anger or disgust.
Many of these issues can be addressed in a short amount of time. Occasionally, family counseling is needed and in cases where the parents are unwilling or unable to change, I work individually with the young athlete to teach coping skills to be able to better manage those people and situations he may not be able to control.
Dr. Robert Heller is a psychologist and sport psychology consultant based in Boca Raton, Florida. He is the author of numerous self improvement guides and the widely used mental conditioning CD-ROM training program, TENNISMIND.
(Previously published in “Tennis Enthusiast”)