UNITED STATES SWIMMING
Hints on Helping Your Swimmer Be More Successful
Both your swimmer and his coach are likely to have a list of criticisms for their performance, no matter how good it might have been, so what they need from you is love and support. On the other hand, do not try to provide excuses for poor performances. As mentioned above, most athletes try to give their best performances in every competition, but sometimes the results are disappointing. When that happens, the less said, the better. The old adage, "if you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all," would probably be a good one to follow. A swimmer is generally quite perceptive about their swims, and is, after all, the only one who really knows how much effort went into it. You and the coach only know what it looked like.
LEAVE YOUR SWIMMER ALONE~
Your swimmer already has enough problems: trying to go fast, keep his start, stroke and turns legal, execute proper technique, impress his teammates, friends and/or enemies, place, improve his time, score points, please the coach, please themselves and so on. Do not add additional pressure. Most athletes at all levels are already trying to reach their best performances in every competition, and do not really need you to remind them that you want them to do their best.
AVOID CRITICISM OF THE COACH IN FRONT OF YOUR SWIMMER~
The role of the coach is to provide a progressive training situation in which your swimmer can develop his skills and speed. Placing the obstacle of criticism between coach and swimmer creates an additional pressure on the swimmer which can further impair performances. Your swimmer needs to trust his coach in order to get the most benefit. Your best bet, if you do not like what the coach is doing, is to make an appointment with them to discuss the situation, if you feel unable to talk with the coach, then perhaps you should consider finding a different coaching situation.
DO NOT TRY TO COACH YOUR SWIMMER~
Regardless of how much you may know about swimming, you are not employed to coach your child. You are paying someone else to do it, so let them do it. Your child needs you as a parent; he already has a coach. When your child is swimming that is the time for them to be coached. When they are out of the water, that is when they need your support. Keep remembering how difficult it is just to grow up, and then figure how much added pressure there is in a competitive sport. You can help your swimmer by not being the source of more pressure.
REMEMBER THAT SWIMMING SHOULD BE FUN~
One of the most important functions of competitive swimming is keeping kids off the streets. As long as they enjoy it, they will have a healthy, productive activity in which to be involved. When swimming becomes a negative experience, the swimmer is likely to want to stop. All athletes need motivation to attain their ultimate goals. Your challenge is to avoid using behavior modification techniques to get your swimmer to achieve "A" or "AA" or whatever level times are desired. When a swimmer fails to reach his goal, he should be encouraged to keep on trying, rather than be discouraged by your disappointment. When they achieve a goal, let them know how proud you are and stress the fun aspect of the sport.
WHOSE GOALS ARE THEY, ANYWAY?~
Your swimmer's performance is not a reflection on you. (Their manners may be, but not their swimming.) Do not let your ego be caught up in your reaction to their swims. If your swimmer eventually reaches national or international prominence, it will be because they have worked for it, not because their parents wanted the vicarious success.
BE ENTHUSIASTIC AND SUPPORTIVE~
Remember that your child is the swimmer. Children need to establish their own goals, and make their own progress towards them. Be careful not to impose your own standards and goals. Do not over burden your child with winning or achieving best times. The most important part of your child's swimming experience is that they learn about themselves while enjoying the sport. This healthy environment encourages learning and fun which will develop a positive self-image within your child.
In the meantime, while your swimmer is working towards their goals, keep encouraging them to reach out and to strive towards excellence, and be sure to let them know you think they are pretty terrific!