As parents, you have a powerful effect on your children's performance and enjoyment of playing sports. Your words can heal and empower them to reach their full athletic potential.
Below are 12 phrases that will help your athlete grow, both on and off the field.
"You choose the sport you want to play."
Offer suggestions, but let your child choose the sport—or variety of sports— he or she wants to play. Not the sport you played, or the sport grandpa wants him to play, but the sport your child is truly interested in.
"Tell me about practice/game."
This allows your young athlete to talk as much or as little as she wants.
"Tell me about your dreams."
Allow your child to dream, set goals and think big. Don't feel the need to help your child see "reality." Life has a way of re-shaping those dreams.
"I enjoy watching you play."
That is really all your child needs to hear before and after a game. He doesn't need a play-by-play critique. He just needs to know that, win or lose, you still support him.
"I believe in you."
Sometimes that's all the motivation your child needs to do her best.
"Iʼm proud of you."
This goes beyond the scope of sports, but your child needs to know that you are proud of her, not her stats or her trophy collection.
"You will come back."
All athletes suffer from slumps, but the real test of their strength is learning to push through until they get it right.
"Letʼs celebrate the small victories."
Helping your young athlete appreciate the small victories in a game instead of huge achievements gives him a sense of accomplishment even when things are hard.
"Itʼs OK to struggle."
Every athlete struggles. If sports were easy, thereʼd be no pleasure in the achievements. Let your child know that the struggle doesnʼt have to beat her.
Sorry you lost. Sorry you feel bad about your performance. Sorry you donʼt like your team. Sorry you arenʼt happy with your playing time. Recognizing your childʼs feelings is OK. It lets him know you support and love him.
"How can I help?"
When your child is having a hard time, she may just need to know that you are there to offer her support.
"I see your progress!"
When your child takes big or small steps, when he learns a new skill or how to be a leader, or a team player, notice it and affirm him.
Although these phrases can motivate and help your child, remember that sometimes the most important communication we give is not in our words. It is who we are to our kids that really empowers them for life.