Participating in sports can do wonders to a girl’s confidence, social life and health. Like anything else, some girls will be more skilled than others, but that does not mean that everyone should not give sports a try. For better or worse, by testing out different activities young, girls can discover more about themselves, what brings them joy and what avenues they would like to pursue in the future.
When done properly with the right attitude, sports participation can positively shape a person’s values for the rest of their lives. It is up to you as the parent, guardian or mentor to set expectations for your child at the beginning of each season and have honest discussions about their interests and goals. Ensuring your girl gets the most out of her sports participation requires your dedication and willingness to guide them along the way. Are you ready to set them up for success this National Girls and Women in Sports Day? See these 8 Ways to Support Your Girl Athlete!
1. Let her choose her passion
Trying out different sports (and a variety of extracurricular activities in general) gives kids a chance to discover their passions and what ignites their sparks. Forcing your kids into a sport that you may love, even if they have not shown interest, rarely leads to a happy ending. Guiding them into something you think they may enjoy, based on their other interests, skills or strengths is a great starting point. Let them know that it is acceptable if they do not want to pursue a certain sport long-term and try something else. Never make them feel like a failure if they do not end up falling in love with something
2. Teach her to respect her coaches and peers
When you sign up your girl for a sport, emphasize the importance of paying close attention to coaches and referees, acting respectfully and following their directions. So often coaches come to practice or games directly from work, so remind your girl that her coaches are dedicating their free time to making this experience possible for her and her teammates. Becoming an attentive and active listener will show the coach that she is committed to growing as a player and is taking the game seriously, which is also a great thing.
3. Show pride - win, lose or draw
Never shame your girl if she fails or comes in second place. This will do nothing to advance her skill set, not to mention her confidence level. The fact that she showed up, put herself out there and did her best is a win that warrants attention. Taking the field and trying something new is a brave act and should be celebrated regardless of the outcome. Instill confidence in your girl no matter her skill level, position or play time.
4. Help her manage her emotions
Sports participation is an excellent way for girls to learn emotional intelligence. Educating them on this early will help them maturely navigate similar situations in life and make wise decisions during high-stake situations. Teach your athletes the value of staying calm during turbulent times and humble during moments of glory. Support your athlete by embodying these behaviors at home too!
5. Provide her with nutritious options
Healthy athletes practice healthy habits. Inform your girl of the many benefits that coincide with eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, implementing recovery time and supporting strong mental health. Remind her that healthy options serve as fuel for her athletic performance and overall brain power. Set an example by making healthy dinners, going on family walks, sticking to a set bedtime and limiting screen time.
6. Teach her responsibility
If your athlete is responsible enough to participate in a sport, then she is responsible enough to take care of her equipment, uniform and schedule. Teach her how to properly prepare for game day so that she can follow through for the rest of the season. Packing her bag, washing her uniform, writing dates on the calendar, filling her water bottle, cleaning her equipment – encourage her to take control of these tasks on her own. We promise this will translate to other areas of her life as well!
7. Set a positive example on the sidelines
Overdoing it in the stands with inappropriate remarks, violent behaviors or harsh sideline coaching is humiliating for your athlete. Participating in sports is stressful enough for athletes, that they do not need to have the extra burden of worrying about your actions. The way you treat the fellow parents around you sets a major example to your athlete, both on and off the field. It demonstrates to them how to respectfully be a good sport as well as a considerate teammate, no matter where they are.
8. Don't compare her achievements to her peers'
Even if you are being complementary to your girl, comparing her to one of her teammates is never a great idea. Comparison statements can make kids feel unnecessary competition and jealousy toward their peers and prompt new insecurities. Instead of telling your girl that she should work harder so she could be more like her all-star best friend, inspire her to attempt a new skill, practice a different way or reflect on her experiences. Above all else, let her know that she is enough and that everyone brings something unique to the table, including her!
Support your athlete by signing her up for a program that challenges her mind and increases her activity level! Learn more here.