Swim Parent Expectations- How Best to Support your Athlete

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After two years of social distancing, limited on-deck capacity, and virtual meets, swim team is officially back. Across the country, parents, kiddos, and coaches alike are rejoicing this quintessential summer activity’s return. As a parent, you may be anticipating the return of various activities: cheering on your young athletes, volunteering to keep all things “swim” smoothly rocking and rolling, networking with other parents, or spending time pool-side with friends. However, amidst these exciting activities, you might also be wondering how to best help your swimmer achieve their potential. Here, we discuss swim parent expectations during the swim season and why it is best to leave technical coaching to the coaches.

We want the best for our children. We enjoy seeing them triumph, seeing them take part in successful goal-setting. Therefore, particularly when it comes to sports, it is easy to act as “coach” to your young athlete: “Hey, that throw from first base to home was a little high; let’s working on aiming lower next time,” or “Make sure to use the side of your foot and not the top when you’re passing the soccer ball,” or “Keep your eyes down on your freestyle!” Sound familiar, by chance? If so, you’re definitely not alone! Here at SwimTopia, we are all about supporting and encouraging your young athlete. However, we also fully believe in allowing coaches to be the sole voice of instruction.

Why keep “coaching” out of your family’s shared swimming experience? 

  • During the learning experience, youth athletes need consistency and repetition. Too many voices result in a confusing environment (think the common adage: “too many cooks in the kitchen”). Swimmers learn skills more slowly when hearing mixed messages from multiple sources.
  • Coaches are hired for their professional swimming knowledge. They are “experts” in their field and have spent many years honing their message, drills, and workouts. They understand youth development and the steps necessary to establish an athlete’s foundation. Trust the process!
  • Consistent “parent coaching” can strain the relationship between you and your kiddo. Unfortunately, it can suck some of the fun out of the process.

What are some ways you can continue to support your swimmer this season?

  • Celebrate their successes! Whether it be a heat winner, overall winner, best time, or first legal breaststroke race, get excited! Swimming contains so many progress points and stepping stones—get ready to highlight each one with your swimmer.
  • In the case of less-than-optimal races, ask your swimmer what they learned. Kiddo received a DQ? Don’t race to tell them what they should have done. Ask your swimmer what their coach’s feedback was and what they would do differently the next time. And then drop the topic (and don’t email Coach about what you should be doing at home to help correct!).
  • Get involved! Swim teams revolve around parent volunteers. Help make this swim season memorable by contributing to the “behind the scenes.”
  • Get your athlete(s) involved! Sports are a great way to learn skills like: time management, goal setting, overcoming setbacks, and teamwork. Get your athlete excited about being part of their team and participating in everything swimming has to offer, from practices to meets to movie night to the end-of-season banquet!

Altogether, we parents want the best for our swimmers and sometimes, in the hopes of helping them succeed, we overstep boundaries regarding what is expected of/necessary for the “parent role.” When it comes to swimming, sit back and relax! SwimTopia recommends leaving the coaching to the coaches, and getting excited about all the many, many other ways you can enhance your swimmer’s experience.