When coaches, swimmers and swimming parents work well together, incredible things are possible. The team is committed and focused on helping the swimmer to realise their full potential.
For swimming parents there are a few simple dos and don’ts that can help ensure that you are guiding your child in the right way and fulfilling your all-important role.
1. Do be supportive – rain or shine!
Whether your child comes first or last, sets five PBs or none, you should still love and support them the same. One of your most important roles as a swimming parent is to provide emotional support during the tough times, of which there will be many. Let your child know that they are still loved, no matter how badly they think they swam. And likewise, try not to let them get cocky when they win.
2. Don’t pressure your child
Remember that swimming is your child’s hobby. If your child has their own reasons and own goals for participating, they will be far more motivated to excel and therefore far more successful. It is normal and healthy to want your child to excel and be as successful as possible, but swimming parents cannot make this happen by pressuring them with expectations. Instead, you can encourage them and offer them unconditional support and guidance.
3. Don’t be the coach
‘Coaches coach. Swimming parents parent.’ Your child’s coach is there to teach the technical swimming skills. You can help your child to learn values and develop positive character traits. Showing unconditional love and support, and creating a happy and balanced home environment will help them to get the most out of what they are doing in the pool.
4. Do encourage independence
Confidence is the essential ingredient in all great swimming success stories. Confidence comes from knowing; knowing you can do it. Encourage your child to pack and empty their own swimming bag, to make their breakfast, to carry their swimming kit, fill their water bottles etc. This will help to create independent and self-motivated swimmers, with a strong sense of confidence, self-belief, resilience and self-reliance.
5. Don’t dangle carrots
Try to avoid extrinsic motivation (bribery!). It’s important to be careful of the message you send out – swimmers should swim for themselves and for the positives the sport brings. When your child does well, try to praise them for what they did well, not the outcome that they achieved.
6. Don’t criticise the officials
The majority of officials are volunteers. Many are even swimming parents who have decided they want to help out on the poolside. Children sometimes make mistakes at meets – it happens! If your child is disqualified at a meet, try not to complain or worry. If a disqualification is questionable, as sometimes is the case, the coach (and not the parent!) will take the necessary steps.
7. Do respect the coach
Trust the coach to do their job. If you have any questions about something your child’s coach is doing or saying in the sessions, it is usually ok to ask. However, their attention will be on the swimmers they are coaching during session times, so try and grab a word with them before or after training. Remember that a huge number of coaching staff are giving their time voluntarily and are keen to get the best out of every one of their swimmers!
8. Do be loyal and supportive of the team
Where possible emphasise the importance of being a team player. Swimmers that motivate others are often the happiest and gain the greatest benefit out of training and competition. This goes for swimming parents also. Cheer for your own child but cheer for their teammates too. This will help to create a positive atmosphere amongst the swimmers and their supporters.
9. Don’t make your child feel a failure
Children develop at different rates, in terms of size, strength, coordination, emotional and intellectual maturity and just about everything else. Encourage your child to compete against themselves, and to measure themselves against only their own best efforts. If they do win and beat everyone else, it’s a bonus!
10. Don’t push for Olympic or Paralympic glory
Maybe your child will become an Olympian, but for most this isn’t the case. Encourage your child to be the best they can be and to enjoy their sport, but make sure both your and their expectations are not too set too high. It’s great to have goals and dreams, but the most important thing is that they are happy. If they are happy the good performances will come naturally.
FAQ Information Views: 139 Keywords: Created: 01.12.2017 Updated: 01.12.2017
It’s completely normal to become emotional when supporting your child at swimming events. It shows you care, are involved in their life, and keen to share the pressure with them as they compete.
But when supporting your child at swimming events it’s important to be calm and supportive, rather than turning in to an overbearing “balcony ogre” once your child hits the water.
We know the pool balcony can be a stressful area. Hundreds of parents all desperate to communicate with their child mixed with the stifling sauna-like atmosphere of the pool. It’s not easy to keep calm.
However, no matter what happens, or how tense things get, it’s important that you maintain discipline, poise, confidence and control. Your kids will thank you for it and it’ll help them perform better.
Ask your child how they would like you to be. While few kids like a balcony ogre barking negative comments, they may want you in the front row of the balcony, whooping and cheering for them as they line up to race. On the other hand, they may find it a bit off-putting and anxiety inducing, and would rather you remained calm and quiet. So, tip one is ask first.
Try to remember that although you’re sat within a crowd, your actions and words will still be noticed, most of all by your child. Think before you shout, and keep your body language, actions and your words positive.
If you’re starting to feel any frustration, try taking slow, deep breaths to keep calm. If something’s gone particularly badly, try counting down from 100 in your head, to give you time to form a rational response.
Try not to get sucked in to competing with other parents. Everyone wants their child to be the best – it’s natural. However, it’s your child’s sport, so try to just enjoy watching and be supportive. Leave the competitiveness to them. If you need to compete, join a Masters club and compete in the pool.
If you’re feeling particularly annoyed with your child’s performance, or are struggling to keep your cool on the balcony, try adopting relaxation skills. Imagine a relaxing scene, repeating a calming phrase, or putting some headphones in with some chilled music on may all help you to keep relaxed. Try some visualisation exercises before the race. You can find out more about visualisation here.
Video: Dr Camilla Knight talks about the support of parents of talented young athletes. The focus for young people at competitions is to enjoy it and perform to the best of their ability. Parents are important before and after training and competitions to offer support and help their child, reviewing with them what it going well and things they may want to work on. The most important thing is to make sure your child knows that you’re looking forward to watching them and that effort and performance is what counts – not winning.
FAQ Information Views: 159 Keywords: Created: 01.12.2017 Updated: 12.03.2018
Visualisation is a technique used by many of sporting’s elite, following evidence showing that it is important to train not only the body, but also the mind. It is about creating a mental image of what you want to happen or feel in reality and practise ‘visualising’ it in your mind’s eye. Visualising yourself winning will make it more likely to happen, the theory goes.
Visualisation like this will help improve your child’s swimming performance if done correctly. But as with any skill training is essential, as is rehearsal and repetition.
As a parent of a swimmer, it is useful to have an understanding of why visualisation is key and how you can help your child to build visualisation in to their training programme. Here are the six steps to visualising.
- Your child should find somewhere comfortable and quiet where they can concentrate and relax.
- Encourage them to take long, slow breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth to slow the heart rate and help to relax.
- Next step is to close the eyes and create the image. This could be creating a winning experience or going through the routine of a successful race where a PB is achieved. The subject of visualisation depends on the required outcome.
- Encourage your child to make the image as detailed as possible. Tell them to think about sights, sounds, feelings, smells and tastes, to make sure all of the senses are aligned to the image and it’s a real as possible. They need to think about what are they wearing, what can they hear, and how they feel. Detail is vital.
- If they get distracted, or the image doesn’t go the way they want, they can open their eyes, take some deep breaths and restart the process. It may take some practise to develop the focus and skills that visualisation requires.
- Ensure the visualisation ends on a positive image, to help boost confidence and self-belief, and to reduce any feelings of anxiety.
More than competing
Visualisation doesn’t always have to be specific to competing. It can also be used as a relaxation technique.
If your child is getting wound up about an upcoming competition or an exam, or is even struggling with the work load from school, you can encourage them to use visualisation to help.
Use exactly the same technique, but imaging a peaceful setting, such as lying on a deserted beach, with the waves lapping the shore. Just a few minutes of this, paired with long, deep breaths, will encourage calmness.
It can also help your child recover from injury by keeping the mind focused and motivation levels high. Read more in this Recovering from Injury article.
FAQ Information Views: 152 Keywords: Created: 01.12.2017 Updated: 01.12.2017