Best of Both Worlds podcast: Sports parenting with Rebecca Smith

Sports can be intense. Witness the Olympics! But even before that level, athletics can be quite stressful for many young people. If you are raising a competitive athlete, how should you best support your child and not inadvertently make things worse?

Rebecca Smith, founder of Complete Performance Coaching and the PerformHappy community (and a former gymnast), shares her advice this week on Best of Both Worlds. She’s got five strategies for parents of athletes that work for people parenting kids through any intensely competitive activity (so yep, parents of musicians and Mathletes, this one is for you too!). One of my favorite is to remember the four things you are supposed to provide: Rides, food, hugs, and tuition. That’s it. Unsolicited advice and baggage from your own athletic career (or musical/academic competition/spelling bee career) not included 🙂

In the opener, Sarah and I talk about the activities our kids are doing, and in the Q&A we talk about athletic activities that might work for kids who are not necessarily oriented toward traditional team sports. Please give the episode a listen, and be sure to check out Rebecca’s podcast, PerformHappy.

7 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Sports parenting with Rebecca Smith

  1. I wanted to add a plug for summer swim team as a sport. We signed my 4Th & 6th grader up last summer as they’d aged out of other park district activities and we wanted them to have something physical in the summer to do (we’re not a sporty family but I realized as they’ve gotten older I want them to find something they enjoy doing). It was short season (8 weeks) and they got better as it went on. Plus the made friends or deepened friendship and my oldest is looking forward to it again this summer. Also as you stated Rock Climbing is another great one for a non traditional sport. My youngest loves it and I think it really teaches perseverance. This was a great episode! My favorite takeaway was to only praise progress or effort. I will keep that in mind this summer as sometimes my competitive nature takes over.

  2. I will plug curling as a low stakes sport to try out for kids. It’s like chess on ice, has a good team dynamic, and promotes sportsmanship. The season is usually late October to early March, so it’s a nice way to get out in the winter. It’s the kind of sport you can play your whole life and make a lot of good friends.

  3. Haven’t listed yet but am excited to! This is such a fascinating topic to me. I’m truly amazed by Olympic athletes or other exceptionally high achievers and love memoirs, etc about them. But that being said, I’m also very intrigued and interested in the kind of wacky direction youth sports and activities have moved over the years. My boys are both pretty involved/fairly competitive in their sports (although I’m not seeing any Olympic aspirations in either one, lol) and you definitely see some people who really get crazy intense with it all. One the one hand, it seems insane- but on the other hand, if you’re not careful, it can be easy to sort of get sucked into it, honestly! There have been times I’ve been watching my boys and suddenly feel like I’m “overly” invested or anxious about the outcome- which is a red flag to me that I need to step back and chill out! Like the previous commenter said, I also have a fairly competitive nature (or did back when I played sports), but it’s so important to not end up projecting my own personality on them, or attempt to live vicariously through them. You see it ALL though on the sidelines/ in the bleachers…I can think of parents who definitely cross the line into Crazytown. I think it’s helpful to look at the big picture of WHY we have the kids in the sports/activity in the first place. It’s probably not “to become an Olympic athlete/World Champion”- it’s to be active, grow, make friends, learn discipline, learn to focus, be coachable, etc.

    Have you ever seen the Cat & Nat #Momtruths video about Sports and crazy parents?? It’s hilarious!! Not sure if it will let me post a link here (google Cat & Nat Sports video and it comes up), but if so, here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBA4bxjTlJE It’s so funny!

    1. Great comment and YES. Some absolutely overly invested parents even at my kids’ ages -crazy!!! Love your reminder about what the purpose it.

  4. I find it really fascinating – as a bookish, nerdy kid who never played sports and now lives outside the US. My parents’ neighbours seemed to have their lives consumed by travel baseball – on the basis that they might get a college scholarship. But I’m pretty sure if they had invested the money they spent on fees, training, gas, etc they could pay for college, or at least part of it?

    Things are much more chill here in the UK as there isn’t a financial incentive in the form of scholarships. We can sign up for camps for different sports and activities during the school holidays/half-terms. So I think we’ll let him try different things. My priorities are that he learns how to swim well and that he feels positive about moving his body. I’m not sporty at all but I love to walk, to cycle, and just generally be outdoors, which seems more sustainable in terms of avoiding injury and maintaining good habits as I get older.

  5. Listened to the first part of the episode. Agree with much of what speaker was saying BUT….found myself wondering if perhaps how the speaker presents information may soften/change a bit once her kids are much older. I felt slightly like it was a nutritionist telling me how to feed my teens who didn’t have teens yet herself. Seems like often our tone/empathy changes once we’ve “lived it”.

  6. I haven’t gotten to listen to this podcast episode yet, but it’s on my to do list! I’ve been coaching high school and middle school cross country & track for 9 years, which I’ve really enjoyed. I love working with the kids, but sometimes it can be really tough seeing parents put unnecessary pressure on their kids. Those four things that you mentioned are exactly what we (coaches) need parents to provide for their kids. Can’t wait to listen!

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