It may seem kind of obvious, but it’s certainly a conversation starter. While some teens are trying to separate themselves from their parents as much as possible, it is still important for parents to have their child know that they care. Everyone can benefit from positive reinforcement- even if they say they don’t want or need it. Parents can ask their teens about their sport, their goals, and how they can be supportive. Coach Jay thinks what teens are most concerned about is being embarrassed, either unintentionally or intentionally, by their parents in front of their friends, teammates and peers.
Despite what a teenagers may say, as long as parents don’t embarrass them, deep down they will appreciate their support. One way to show this is by showing up to games and cheering them on. Depending on a teen’s personality, the sport, and cultural norms, this may be a simple handshake combined with a “Congratulations, well done” spoken after the game vs. a “KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK!” yelled at the top of the parent’s lungs during the middle of a game. If parents are not familiar with the sport, the culture, or their teen’s comfort levels, they should check with their son or daughter prior to the game. Parents just need to remember it is all about the teen – to avoid embarrassing him or her at all costs.
Coach Jay has observed many student-athletes not getting enough sleep on day-to-day basis, which can have a negative impact on recovery and performance. Others have a tendency to sleep away the day. Supportive parents should acknowledge their teen’s need for sleep, encouraging the performance-enhancing benefits of getting a good night’s rest. Parents can even throw down a challenge to see how performance is affected when going to bed “whenever” vs. going to bed at a set time. Parents should also consider monitoring and recording behavior and performance goals over a designated period of time (1 week to 1 month).
The hardest part about eating healthy for both teen and adults is knowing what to eat as well as finding time to prepare the foods. Parents can start with the following link for free resources on healthy food choice, meal planning, and shopping suggestions: www.myplate.gov.
Once parents and their student athletes put together a weekly meal plan together, responsibilities are divided up between who will shop, who will cook, who will clean up and when everyone in the family can all share a meal together. Any of these activities performed together are opportunities for parents to inquire about their teen’s sport, how their athlete is progressing, and how they can make a meaningful contribution.
A properly designed strength and conditioning program consists of pre-season, in-season, post season, and off-season preparation in order to prevent injury and enhance performance. Parents can check with their teen’s head coach or athletic director to inquire how these needs are being met. Many coaches and schools contract out with a certified strength coach if the services are not provided within the curriculum. Otherwise, parents can look for a professional with certifications from any of the following agencies: NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association), IYCA (International Youth Conditioning Association) and USAW (United States Weightlifting Association), to be sure their teen’s needs are being adequately met.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com.