Taxi driver, bank manager and hotel owner.
Three jobs every parent of young cricketers feel like they have. Is good sporting parenting is about more than this? Whether you are a kid, parent or coach the answer is probably yes.
This doesn't mean parents need to be heavily involved with the cricket club their kids play in. Most teenagers might even cringe at that thought. There are certain things a good mum or dad can do that won't go that far.
Underlying all these tips is the idea that parents exist in a young players world to offer support.
Here is how to do that:
- Go to the games. Many parents do come along to matches and are proud to watch. There are just as many who never get out of the car too. We are all busy of course, but a good parent knows sport is about more than being a cheap babysitter. Most kids love to see their parents at the games (until they are too cool as older teenagers that is).
- Praise effort. Success is one big reason we play sport. Not everyone can win and not everyone can make it to the highest level. Therefore, as a parent it is important to praise every effort to improve no matter how poor the end performance is. This is because children who have bad sporting experiences when young are less likely to play as adults.
- Be a role model. Research has shown that parents who are active and play sport themselves are far more likely to have children who play. While cricket is the obvious option, anything that keeps parents active and healthy sets a good example.
- Be a shoulder to cry on. When failure comes (and everyone fails at some point), a good parent is there to pick up the pieces and show their children how to bounce back. The best way to do this is to listen unconditionally to their experiences rather than offering advice immediately afterwards.
- Help define success and set goals. Kids are at their best when they are enjoying themselves with no fear of failure (heck, everyone does). It's a parents job to help their child set goals for themselves that are based on things they can control, like having fun or learning a new skill. Often parents goals are very different from children's ones, so make sure they match up.
Most importantly, remember that failure in sport is inevitable; it's how you set your aims and deal with that failure that counts.
Very young children instinctively get up and keep trying long after adults have given up. This is because they live in the moment and don't worry about the consequences. If parents can maintain that love for playing then success will follow at whatever level a child gets to from village team to International.
What if I want to do more?
As a coach, I would be happy if parents did just the above.
If a parent wanted to go beyond this I would encourage them to take an ECB coaching course. There are parent course or you could go as far as taking the Level 1 Assistant Coach qualification. Contact the ECBCA for information on this.
Going too far
A growing problem in sport in general is parents who go to far with their involvement and cross the line into unacceptable behaviour. Every parent wants their kids to do well, but some get blinded by the desire to win above even basic respect.
Lucky for us, cricket has less of a problem with this than other sports. Nevertheless, ask yourself if you as a parent (or your parents) ever go too far with any of the following:
- Lack of respect for officials and their decisions
- Focussing on failure or a child's mistakes
- Forcing children to train or play
- Fighting, Swearing or anything your own parents would dislike
If you get too involved like this take a step back, be prepared to admit you were wrong to your child and rethink why kids play sport in the first place: To have fun.
For more tips on cricket for parents click here.
© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008