by Elizabeth Wickham
Every swim season has a last chance or ditch meet. I’ll never forget when my daughter competed with three other 9-year-olds for a final spot on the 10 and under JO relay. That was the first of many “last ditch” meets. How our swimmers react–whether they make the cut or not–depends in part on how we act as parents.
Here are a few tips for parents about last ditch meets:
It’s hard to make a cut at last ditch.
I’ve heard this from coaches and more experienced parents throughout the years. I believe its true, because there’s more pressure on our kids to perform. I’d love to see some stats to find out if this is fact or fiction. Anyone?
Our anxiety will be felt by our kids.
We can try to stay calm. We can be encouraging and not show disappointment. But, despite what we say to our kids, our true feelings will be seen in non-verbal cues.
It’s just another meet.
In the short term, this one meet will give your child rewards for their effort and sacrifice–or be a major disappointment. But, in the big scheme of swimming, it’s one meet and season out of many.
Focus on the process, not times.
Our kids are developing as people and swimmers. They could have a major breakthrough and drop heaps of time, but what if it’s not enough to make the cut? It’s important to remember they’re learning how to handle disappointment, persevere and be a good teammate.
Don’t talk about the money.
Yes, swimming can be expensive. We may be paying for hotels, meet fees, dues and private lessons. Our kids aren’t our employees and they don’t have to pay us back by making a cut. Let’s not make them feel guilty.
Be thankful for this meet.
Our kids are learning to perform under pressure. They are practicing a valuable life skill which will help them throughout their lives.
What are your thoughts about last ditch meets? Do you think it’s harder for swimmers to get their times at last ditch than other 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.