Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
If we get nervous before our children’s races, then chances are our children will be nervous, too. If we treat every race like it is life or death — worrying about the outcome rather than the experience — our kids may feel more pressure. One of our better coaches explained that my kids swam their best if they were relaxed and having fun. Too much focus on times or achieving that coveted cut could make their muscles tense up and they tried too hard. I found that if I could keep my nerves in check, it benefited my kids, too.
Here are six tips on how to relax at meets for parents and to share with our kids:
It’s one race in a series of years of races. Keep meets into perspective and think about each race as a learning experience for your kids. Let the coach coach and embrace your role as the parent offering support and encouragement.
A few deep breaths before a race can help settle nerves. There’s also apps for that, too, like “Mindfulness” that can help keep us and our children stay calm.
Cheering with a loud bunch of parents can be fun and keeps away the jittery nerves. It’s hard to be nervous while waving pom poms, yelling and jumping up and down.
My favorite thing to do at meets was walking during warm up and warm down. There’s a lot of time to work in steps if you’re not hyper-focused on every stroke in the pool. Yes, I’d make it to each race, but I found I didn’t need to watch warm-ups, too.
FOCUS ON WHAT WE CAN CONTROL
Stress can be helpful or harmful to performance. It’s our outlook towards stress that can make a difference. Try not to worry about what we can’t control, like who is in the lane next to our kids. Discuss with our children what they can control, like how hard they work, but not to worry about things out of their control like who they’re racing.
STAY IN THE MOMENT
There’s only one NOW. Worrying means focus has shifted to what might happen or what has been painful in the past. With our thoughts wandering to these other places in time, we lose focus on what is happening now.
What advice do you have for parents and swimmers to stay calm at meets?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.