5 Helpful Tips for Parenting a Student Athlete

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Being the parent of an athlete can be a difficult challenge, but it’s important to foster independence and confidence in your athlete before they get to college. Just by playing sports, kids pick up a several essential qualities for being a student-athlete along the way like commitment, self-discipline, focus, work ethic, and the ability to perform under pressure.


But they can’t do it all on their own, and some help and proper guidance along the way can make a huge difference for your child by the time they get to college. Parents are still an integral part of the preparation process for young athletes, and despite their best intentions they can often be a tad overbearing. Luckily for you we’ve got some experience in this field, and here are some helpful tips on the best ways to help them reach their academic and athletic goals.



Instill the Importance of an Academic Mindset


Regardless of the athletic skill of your child or the sport they play, in order to earn an athletic scholarship they’ll need the proper grades to accompany their athletic skill. Make sure to stress the importance of grades, instill good studying habits, and make sure they are staying up to date on their schoolwork and assignments.


It doesn’t even need saying, but an overwhelming amount of college athletes become a professional in something other than the sport they play, so taking advantage of the academic benefits of an athletic scholarship is critical. You need to support your young athlete in their efforts if they do have pro aspirations someday, but also be realistic with them and explain to them the value of a free (or highly discounted) education.



Help Them Develop Time Management Skills


Being a student in college is difficult in its own right, but balancing the rigors of being a student and an athlete in college is incredibly difficult. Instead of having you to remind them of when their assignments are due, when they have tests, and when they need to study, they’ll have to keep track of those things themselves while balancing workout, practice, and game schedules for their sport.


Slowly let your athlete take responsibility themselves for things like getting to practice, waking up, and scheduling/planning their day by themselves. Sure, it’s not quite as much responsibility as they’ll be taking on in college, but it’s a step in the right direction and it gets them used to being independent and teaches them how to balance academics and athletics.



Teach Healthy Eating Habits


In addition to maintaining the balance between their academic and athletic life, student athletes also have the difficult task of eating healthy once they arrive on campus. Which can be a tall task when they’re in a crunch for time in the morning trying to make it to workouts or if they’re in a rush to make it to practice in the evening after class.


By showing them the value of self-care, they’ll understand the importance of eating well, getting enough sleep, and maintaining overall physical and mental health as a student athlete. It’s important that they get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night and eat diets rich in protein and nutrients to replace all the calories they’ll be burning off. Plus, if the occasion ever does to come up where they’re getting stressed out or having trouble dealing with the rigors of being a college athlete, they know they have you to come to for a support outlet.



Help Manage Athletic Pressure


With the competitive nature that comes with athletes and sporting events, it’s no surprise that playing sports at a high level comes along with an awful lot of pressure to perform. One poor outing, a loud-mouthed coach, or even an injury can make things very difficult and stressful for your young athlete. Make sure that no matter what, you are always positive with them and build them up. Believe it or not, some parents don’t seem to comprehend the constructive aspect of constructive criticism, and that kind of negativity can weigh heavily on your child whether they show it or not.


You want your child to be confident in themselves and their abilities, and self-esteem is very critical for athletes, particularly young ones. Always listen to what they have to say after a game and try to focus on effort more than winning. Remember, winning can’t always be controlled but effort sure can.


Don’t Compare Them to Other Athletes


You know what every kid wants to hear? That they’re not as good as somebody else’s kid. Or that they’ll never be as good as their older brother or sister. We’re kidding of course and this should go without saying, but don’t add more pressure on your athlete by comparing them to another teammate, opponent, or even a brother or sister!


It’s important for them to know you see them as an individual and that they don’t need to perform to your or anyone else’s expectations. By putting high expectations on them and comparing them to other athletes or siblings, more often than not you’ll just make them anxious and set them up for failure and disappointment. Athletes need confidence and self-esteem and you are one of the main sources for it!


As you can clearly see, there is a lot of pressure on young athletes and as a parent you are an essential piece of their self confidence and self esteem. It’s a challenging road for student athletes, but if they have someone there to help instill confidence in them while also preparing them to be independent and take care of himself at the next level, it can go a long way in their journey for a successful athletic and academic career.



Bonus Tip: And as an added bonus tip, make sure that you, your child, their coaches, and guidance counselors know all of the eligibility requirements and the application process for U Sport or CCAA. This isn’t something you want to try and figure out at the last minute!




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