Come on, admit it – we all love that dream, and we love it because it actually happens to the lucky few. It really can happen. Some have just the right combination of talent, good luck and that indefinable ‘something’ that seems to mark out some people as being apparently destined for great things.
But there’s another ingredient in that mix, without which, it seems, no budding Messi or Ronaldo would ever have made it. We’re talking about the pushy parent! At least that’s the conventional view. If you’ve ever watched Dance Moms you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Is it true, though? Apart from the talent and being in the right place at the right time, do kids really need a driven parent to propel them into the limelight?
According to studies, 4 out of 10 kids are actively put off their favourite sport by over-enthusiastic parents. When the children were interviewed, they tended to say things like ‘I just lost interest’, but when questioned more deeply, they admitted that they got tired of all the shouting and obsessing by parents. They also believed that winning was much more important to their mums and dads that it was to themselves.
According to an American study, parents fall into one of 4 broad categories. Take a look and see which type you are!
The demanding coach – Enjoys shouting advice and instructions from the sideline. Not an aggressive type, but tends to feel their advice is essential, and more important that the actual coach’s tactics.
The crazed spectator – The type that makes kids cringe! Over-excited, rowdy and loud. Thinks nothing of getting into arguments with the coach and other parents.
The distracted spectator – What’s happening on his mobile phone is far more interesting than his child’s efforts on the sportsfield. Just there to make up the numbers.
The supportive parent – Engaged, interested and actively following the action. Cheers and participates appropriately.
I think we’re all a little guilty of being all of the first three at some time or another. I have a cringing memory of my son lining up for the last race of sport day. Just as I shouted his name to encourage him, the race began and he got distracted. He was left standing there looking confused, when all the other kids were galloping down the field! Oh my.
Apparently the advice from the experts is trite but true – be there for your kids but leave the coaching to the coaches. Be an enthusiastic supporter but not a fanatic. And if your dreams of sporting glory suddenly wither when gymnastics is replaced by Snapchat and makeup, take it with good grace. It’s their lives and their dreams that matter most.