I facilitated a forty-five minute open discussion with parents regarding the concepts of performance, ecology and inter-dependencies, and how all these things intersect and ultimately determine the future outcomes of the athletes.
For high-performance athletes to be successful all stakeholders in the performance ecology need to have a common purpose, a shared language and they need to support each other appropriately. Parents, coaches and athletes need to understand their role and the boundaries of their roles within the ecology so that individual, team and club performance and potential is enhanced.
For many parents, it is a difficult, ambiguous and ill-defined process, particularly if their children compete in highly sophisticated sports like gymnastics and diving. The sophistication of the sport creates a steep learning curve for parents and families as they gradually learn, adjust to and manage the culture of the sport, the expectations, the performance pressures and dynamics of the club, teams, coaches and athletes.
If there is any one value that captures the nature of the relationship between parents and coaches, it is trust. Essentially, parents are placing the safety, hopes and identity formation of their children into the hands of the coaches and trusting that the coach respects and honours this gift. And let’s face it, trust is the most difficult games of all. How do we trust? How do we know when to trust and when to exert influence and control in order to ‘guarantee’ outcomes. Because of the trust factor, parents and coaches can sometimes miss each other. This can miss the fact that each holds valuable and sometimes critical information that can impact on the performance (sport for example) and potential (life for example) of the athlete.
In other words, regular, open and honest communication is critical for the success of the athlete. It is not all up to the athlete to pull out their personal best each time. It is not all up to the coach to come up with the perfect game plan and strategy to guarantee a win. It is not all up to the parent to support the athlete to set and maintain healthy boundaries and take care of themselves, mentally and physically.