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If you want to raise a successful athlete, read this

Kobe Bryant's father:"Whether you score zero or 60 points, I am going to love you no matter what"

As someone who has worked with young athletes on their mindset training and psychological wellbeing for a number of years, I've witnessed firsthand how parents can have a significant impact on their children's athletic performance. Parents' behavior towards their young athlete children can have a profound impact on their performance and self-esteem. Unfortunately, some parents put immense pressure on their kids and are excessively critical of their game. This can lead to long-term negative effects, including burnout and loss of passion for the sport.

Some of the things that parents have said to their young athletes are:

  • After a game where performance was not met by parent's expectations "I am ashamed you are my son/daughter"

  • Before an important competition telling that "if you will not win this tournament, you will no longer participate in other competitions"

  • After a lost game which was attended by a parent a young athlete abandoned "to figure out how to get home on his own"

Rather than exhibiting the negative and damaging behaviors previously discussed, it is more beneficial to follow the example set by Kobe's father. When Kobe, who went on to become one of the greatest NBA players of all time, was feeling down about not scoring any points during an entire summer of games at the age of 11, his father reassured him by saying, "Listen, whether you score zero or 60 points I am going to love you no matter what".

Now imagine yourself in your kid's shoes and you hear from your parents that "if you do not win this match you will no longer participate in next competitions" or on the other hand "regardless of your performance I will love you no matter what". Which statement would give you more confidence and feeling of support?!

Please, parents, avoid doing this:

  1. Avoid Criticizing: Parents should avoid criticizing their young athletes' performance, skills, or abilities. Criticism can be demoralizing and may discourage young athletes from continuing to pursue their interests. Instead, parents should focus on constructive feedback and ways to improve.

  2. Avoid Comparisons: Parents should avoid making comparisons between their young athletes and others, whether it be other athletes or even siblings. This can create an unhealthy sense of competition and undermine their young athletes' self-esteem.

  3. Avoid Blaming: Parents should avoid blaming their young athletes for losses, poor performance, or mistakes. Blaming creates a negative environment and can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, or resentment.

  4. Avoid Overreacting: Parents should avoid overreacting to their young athletes' successes or failures. Overreacting can create unrealistic expectations or put undue pressure on young athletes to perform at a high level consistently.

  5. Avoid Disrespecting Officials or Opponents: Parents should avoid disrespecting officials or opponents during games or competitions. This behavior sets a poor example for young athletes and can result in disciplinary actions or even disqualification.

  6. Avoid Focusing Solely on Winning: Parents should avoid placing too much emphasis on winning, to the point where it becomes the only goal. This narrow focus can cause young athletes to feel stressed, anxious, and discouraged.

Instead do this:

  1. Treat them with respect: Parents should treat their young athletes with respect, acknowledging their efforts and accomplishments, and valuing their opinions and decisions. Treating them with respect fosters a sense of self-worth and confidence in their abilities.

  2. Encourage open communication: Parents should encourage open communication with their young athletes, creating a safe and non-judgmental space for them to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. This helps build trust and strengthens the parent-child relationship.

  3. Focus on effort and progress: Parents should focus on their young athletes' effort and progress rather than just their achievements. Recognizing and praising their efforts and progress encourages them to continue working hard and improves their self-esteem.

  4. Support their aspirations: Parents should support their young athletes' aspirations and dreams, even if they differ from their own. This helps young athletes feel valued and respected for their individual interests and goals.

  5. Be a positive role model: Parents should be a positive role model for their young athletes, demonstrating good sportsmanship, respect for others, and a positive attitude. This sets a good example for young athletes to follow and helps them develop healthy attitudes towards sports and competition.

  6. Provide balanced support: Parents should provide balanced support for their young athletes, providing guidance and resources to help them improve their skills, while also ensuring they have a healthy work-life balance. This includes making time for rest, socializing with friends, and pursuing other interests outside of sports.

  7. Foster independence and responsibility: Parents should foster independence and responsibility in their young athletes, encouraging them to take ownership of their athletic pursuits, make their own decisions, and learn from their mistakes. This helps young athletes develop important life skills and prepares them for future challenges.

In conclusion, constantly focusing on the negatives and being quick to judge can have detrimental effects on a child's self-esteem and confidence. Instead, it's important to have open and healthy conversations with your child about their mistakes and how they can improve. The best approach is to be supportive and maintain a positive attitude towards your child, letting them know that your love and support are unwavering regardless of their performance or score. By adopting this approach, you can help your child to develop a healthy relationship with sports and maintain their passion for the game.

P.S. If you need help on raising a successful athlete reach out to specialists who work with athletes and their mental game, such as a mindset coach.

P.S. Feel free to tell your experiences and thoughts in the comment section or direct message to

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