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How to Support Your Athlete as a Parent Who Never Played Sports

If you’re a parent whose own childhood did not involve playing sports, you may be struggling to understand your child’s passion for their game. Regardless of how little knowledge you have about the sport they have chosen to play, you surely still want to support them. Many parents who find themselves in this situation feel anxious about how to motivate and encourage their child through their athletic journey. Don’t worry, you can still be a great sports parent even with zero sports background! Here are some tips for how to motivate your child as a non-athlete parent.

Set an example

As a parent, you are your child’s role model. When it comes to sports, try to set a good example for your athlete. Show your child that you are interested and engaged in their sport by attending their games and practices, cheering them on when they do well. Demonstrate that you understand the importance of hard work, discipline, and dedication by making sure they practice regularly and are always on time for their games.

Taking care of the little things—stuff as simple as showing up on time—is what sticks with athletes beyond their playing careers, and holds them up throughout them. So much of what you routinely do as a person who never played sports can make all the difference in an athlete’s success in their game. Just because you haven’t been between the lines yourself doesn’t mean you can’t set a great example!

Encourage healthy habits

Encourage your child to take care of their body by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Teach them the importance of getting enough sleep and proper hydration. This will help them perform better and stay injury-free. Take it upon yourself to improve habits in your own life to make these health benefits routine to your child.

It’s also important to help your child find a balance between their sport and school work. Make sure they are not sacrificing their academic success for their athletic success. Encourage them to prioritize their studies and make sure they are performing well in school. Balancing commitments is challenging for everyone with a full plate, but emphasizing academics alongside athletics will help your child build up mental fortitude and aid them in succeeding in all facets of life.

Provide positive support

It’s important to provide your child with positive support. Praise them for their hard work and effort rather than just their wins and losses. Let them know that you are proud of them regardless of the outcome of the game. It is also important to avoid negative criticism and to be constructive with your feedback. Although you may be unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the game, try to find similarities between sports and your life. You still have plenty of advice to offer your child in times of adversity even though you can’t directly relate to their experience.

Allow your child to make mistakes and learn from them. Don’t be too hard on them if they don’t perform as well as they had hoped. Help them stay focused and motivated by reminding them of their goals and why they enjoy playing the game.

Be open to conversation

Open and honest communication is essential when it comes to parenting. Talk to your child about their sport and always be receptive to their ideas and opinions. Ask them questions about their goals and how they are feeling about their progress towards them. Earnestly listen to their responses and offer supportive feedback. This conversational way of support will create trust for your child that they can come to you with anything.

The most important thing is to let your child know that you are in their corner and that you support them. They need to know that you believe in them and will be there for them no matter what.

It’s possible to be a great sports parent even if you never played sports yourself. Setting a good example, encouraging healthy habits, providing positive support, and having meaningful conversations with your child are all important ways to motivate and encourage your child. By following these tips, you can be the best sports parent for your child and help them reach their goals.


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