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Parent Tip: Understanding Your Role in the Athlete Triad

Posted on 3/7/2017

An athlete’s support system can be seen as a triangle of contributors - parents, athlete, and coaches,  each equally contributing to the athlete’s physical and psychological health and wellness.   Nurturing the relationships and responsibilities of each member of this triad takes a lot of finesse and strong communication.

There are many components to a successful Athlete Triad.  Each coach has a unique mixture of coaching philosophy, goals and expectations, just as each athlete has his/her own personality, work ethic and list of goals.  These are components of the athlete triad that are amply shared and communicated during the hours and hours a coach and athlete spend in the gym together.

What is the role of the parent in the Athlete Triad?

Last weekend, I intently listened to a panel of Olympians who were asked to speak on the topic of their parents, and the ways their parents contributed to their success.  Each of them had a slightly different message, some describing having the freedom to pursue their dreams freely, and others being held strictly accountable for their choices in their athletics and their life.  

Parents of competitive athletes are challenged to find the most effective ways to support the individual needs of their own athlete.  It is heartbreaking to watch your child struggle with progress, hit a mental block or make poor choices regarding nutrition or sleep.  Often, parents are left in the dark as to how to be most helpful.  

A positive coach/parent relationship is critical for the healthy athlete.  Many coaches will communicate with parents regularly, which helps to educate the parent and quell the frustration parents often feel from being out of the loop.  

I found a great list highlighting the parent role and responsibility in the Athlete Triad in the September issue of the Women’s Sports Foundation (link below), and as I read through this list, I found myself both patting myself on the back and also, highlighting a few areas I need to reflect and improve on.  Hopefully, you’ll find some comfort in realizing that you too are doing a great job parenting and supporting your young athlete!   

Women’s Sports Foundation, September 2016