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  • Writer's picturecasey brown

How to be a 'top-notch' winter sport side line parent....

Now that winter sports are in full swing here are a few things to remember as parents that can aid and promote a really positive experience to your child(rens) sporting experience. This is aimed for children 5-12 years of age, but you may still get pockets of insight from the information below for your teenagers.

I think firstly it’s important to realise that the more sports and activities your child is introduced to at a younger age the better their outcome is later in life to 1) participating in sport through their life 2) having a higher skill level in general 3) being 'more' talented in a specific sport later in age.

There’s no correlation between playing 1 specific sport early in life and being a legend in that sport later in life. Keep it broad and keep your encouragement as a parent to participate up!

⚽️ The way you talk and explain to your child(ren) about practices and games will set your child’s mindset up from the get-go.

- For example: instead of saying “If you want to win, you need to listen to exactly what the coach is telling you or you won’t get better” … vs… “Your coach is going to teach you certain skills during practices, like how to pass behind you, so you can do really good passes to your teammates during games”.

⚽️ Practices and game days are already overly stimulating for any child (multiple players, parents, environmental input, instructions by referees/ coaches). Your child(rens) support system (you the parent and other family members) doesn’t need to be adding to this stimulus with negative connotations from the side line.

- For example: “What are you doing (x) hurry up and get up there and help” …. vs… “Get your fast feet going (x), you’re doing great”.

⚽️ Every child brings a different skill set to the team. Skill does not just mean physical skill or ability. Your child might bring smiles to those watching with a silly wee dance when their teammate gets a try. Your child might always hand around the oranges and ensures every team member gets one at half time. Your child might prefer to help the referee or coaches guide their team. All these skills are important in being a good team member and a good person in life.

⚽️ Even if your child(ren) or team had a not-so-great game day, find a way to debrief at an age-appropriate level. Children know if it was good or bad, they don’t need a lecture from an overpowering adult watching.

- For example: “why were you guys just pissing around today? I didn’t drive all this way for that” …. Vs… “Today looked like it was a hard game, what did you think about the game?”.

Additionally, if your child(ren) are finding it hard to engage, listen, coordinate, and regulate a lot of the time during trainings and games, then having a quick think over their nutrition prior may help!

Practices and games take a lot of brain concentration and engagement as well as physical energy use. If your child hasn’t had good fuel in, you’ll notice very quickly their ability to engage, listen and move reduces very quickly. It’s not their fault, they simply need some energy. Or they need more consistent energy.

Here are some tips to help keep that energy level up ⤵️

🍌 Explain why they need food before trainings and games. It can be as simple as “Food gives your body energy to move and helps your brain make good choices”. Through to “When we put food in our bodies it breaks down in our tummy and gives our muscle and brain energy so we can keep moving for a long time and concentrate well”.

🍌If your child struggles to each breakfast, pack something for them to eat on the way to the game in a lunch box instead. Something is better than nothing.

🍌 Children do not need sports/ energy drinks. Water alongside food is more than adequate. If you give them a sugar hit, you’ll get the same response you get. A huge high, followed by a horrific low.

Here are some pre-training and pre-game food ideas:

- mousetraps, left over pizza , wrap, muffin, raspberry bun.

- Smoothie.

- Yoghurt pouch and some cut up fruit.

- Fruit pouch and some toast or a sandwich.

- Crackers and cheese / nut butter/ hummus.

- Muesli bar alongside a bierstick/ cold chicken drumstick/ sausage.

And lastly, dont forget to enjoy your child(ren) learning such a range of life skills during their winter sports.


✔️Being a good friend and teammate

✔️Self-regulation when winning/ loosing

✔️Working and progressing motor skills (hand-eye, balance, power, strength).

✔️ Learning to feel comfortable in unusual environments and how to adapt.

✔️ Increased independence to drive their own experience how they wish to.

✔️ Improved confidence to interact with people they don’t know. Saying thank you and well done to people they don’t know well.


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