One of the wonderful things about my work in the world of sports performance is that I attend many different sporting events and witness amazing sports performances by athletes.
Sitting on the sixth row of the Birds Nest at the 2008 Olympics and watching Usain Bolt set a world record in the 100-meter dash was exhilarating. Sitting in the National Indoor Stadium was equally thrilling, watching our men’s gymnastics team win the bronze medal against all odds.
To perform at such a high level under so much pressure means that these athletes have been influenced in a very positive way by coaches, teammates, and parents.
I talk with athletes all day long, and one of the most important things I hear from highly successful athletes is that they feel like their parents love them unconditionally, regardless of how they perform.
They know that if they step out of bounds at a key point in the meet or sit down on a critical vault, their parents are going to be there for them in a very positive way.
Some great athletes have terrible relationships with their parents. But a strong bond between parent and athlete is a common theme I hear often.
Parents are always coming up to me in the stands, calling me, and asking me questions about their child’s performance or involvement in sports. I am always open to these conversations and consider this an honor. I am always forthright and very honest with these parents.
I see it as an opportunity to teach healthy ways to parent an athlete, and for me to become an advocate of the athlete themselves.
Most parents are open to my feedback. It makes a huge difference in the heart and mind of an athlete to have a parent who is willing to get on board with the philosophies we are addressing in our work together.
One of the most significant conversations I have had came at the Winter Cup meet in Las Vegas last February. I was talking with Sue Bhavsar, Raj Bhavsar’s mother. She asked, “As a parent, what can I do to help Raj make his Olympic run this year?” It was a very powerful conversation and if you know Raj’s story you know that overcoming adversity and set back is at the heart of his journey to Olympic greatness and a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics. [Read more…]