The Parent-Athlete Relationship
Competitive swimming programs provide many benefits to young athletes including selfdiscipline, good sportsmanship, and time management skills. Competition allows the
swimmer to experience success and to learn how to treat success and failure as two sides of the same coin, while becoming healthy and physically fit. As a parent, your major responsibility is to provide a stable, loving and supportive environment. This positive environment will encourage your child to continue. Show your interest by ensuring your child's attendance at practices, by coming to swimming meets and volunteering for your club at swim meets, or by participating in fundraising, etc.
Parents contribute to the success experienced by the child and the team. Parents serve as role models and their children emulate their attitudes. Be aware of this and strive to be
positive role models. Most importantly, show good sportsmanship at all times toward
coaches, officials, opponents and teammates. Remember that you are teaching your child at all times.
Be Enthusiastic and Supportive
Remember that your child is the swimmer. Children need to establish their own goals,
and make their own progress towards them. Be careful not to impose your own standards
and goals. Do not over burden your child with winning or achieving best times. Let them
know that first they are the child you love, and second, a swimmer. Tell them you will love them whether they swim well or not, and ask only that they give their best effort.
Learning about oneself while enjoying the sport is the most important part of the
swimming experience. The swimming environment encourages learning and fun, which
will help your child develop a positive self-image.
Positive Parenting Tips
1. Your child needs your emotional, physical, and financial support. Be liberal in
providing this support.
2. Support but do not push your child.
3. Understand development – long-term development as an athlete, and growth and
development as it impacts performance.
4. Be realistic in terms of expectations; factor in age and skill level; be aware of
your child’s perception of your expectations.
5. Emphasize performance and effort, not just outcome. The athlete only has control
over his/her performance. Define and measure success as giving maximal effort
and as personal improvement.
6. Keep winning in perspective.
7. Do not bribe.
8. Give plenty of encouraging and rewarding statements. Criticize sparingly.
9. View swimming as an arena in which to teach your child about commitment, hard
work, and coping with adversity.
10. Work to form an effective Coach-Athlete-Parent Triangle.
USASWIMMING.org February 10, 2009