The Big 3 (from my point of view)

Posted on September 18, 2009


The pressure is huge in swimming.  To be good, to do what you’re told, to swim fast, to be consistent.  What is the parent’s role in greatness? 

Well, as much as I want to tell my own son what to do, how to act, or what to think, I find myself walking a fine line when he is at swim practice with his school team.  When he is training with another coach, it is no longer my place to be a coach to him.  When I pick up Jackson from his practice, he does not need me grilling him about his performance, sets, times, etc. He doesn’t need me analyzing his effort (or lack thereof)… he’s already gotten that from his coach.  And what if I told him something different than his coach? He would become confused, rather than singularly focused. He only needs to hear one voice, not several. I also worry that if I put too much pressure on Jackson he may finally break down mentally and get tired of having both me and his coaches on him. 

So this leads me to the big question we all have: What can we do as parents? 

Well, I am certainly no expert, but I have seen quite a lot in my 32 years of the sport, as a swimmer and a coach. Here’s the best I can figure out…

Be their #1 fan: We need to support them and give them every opportunity to excel in the sport.  When they are down because they are frustrated (either by slow times, yelling coaches, etc.) then we need to listen to them and reinforce that they can do it. Let them know we believe in them.  When they are excited and up, let them know how excited we are, too.

Provide consistency: In order for swimmers to excel, they need consistent practice, not sporadic. By providing them a consistent daily routine, they will come to rely on this. When athletes know exactly what to expect, they can focus more on their performance in the water.

Allow them to fail: This is just as important as succeeding; perhaps even more so.  Michael Jordan didn’t make his JV basketball team; this only made him desire it more and therefore train harder. The same can be seen in our swimmers. If they plateau or even die at the end of a race, let them know this is okay that every athlete has good days and bad days.  Again, they have to know we believe in them no matter what.  

So, I guess that is my “Big 3 Parent Guide.”  Remember, our overall goal is as follows: One voice, one mission, and one awesome athlete!

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