How does your child get pumped up before games? Listen to music? Sit alone to focus?
But are those really the things that are getting your child “pumped up” for a game? I’ve talked to coaches who say that those pump-up habits actually don’t have much of an impact on how well an athlete plays.
So what will pump your child up before a game?
Perhaps these words from Aristotle can help answer that question.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."
If you really want to pump your child up to perform excellently, then perhaps the pumping-up should start with some strategic pre-game pump-up habits.
Pump-Up Habit #1: Be sure your child is properly fueled.
Be sure your child is drinking plenty of water all the time, not just an hour before the game. Send him off to play with nutritional fuel that will help him play his best. It’s too easy to rush past the food and hydration because you’re in a hurry to get out the door. Rushing past this pumping-up habit will negatively impact his game.
Pump-Up Habit #2: Be sure your child is prepared.
Actually, this is the coach’s job, but as a parent, you can see that your child is getting the instruction he needs to know how to do his job on the team. If he doesn’t understand, encourage him to talk to the coach. If he wants to talk strategy with you, by all means, help him out. Your child will be pumped up to play when he feels ready to meet the competition.
Another way for your child to be prepared is to have all his equipment together. Encourage him to keep his gear in one place and get his uniform the night before so he’s not rushing around in a panic before the game looking for stuff.
Pump-Up Habit #3: Be sure your child feels your support.
There are many ways to communicate support. Maybe it’s just a fist-bump as he exits the car. Or maybe it’s a last-minute reminder that “I love watching you play!” But one thing communicating support does NOT mean is that you coach your child all the way to the game. If you are not the coach, then don’t be the coach unless your child specifically asks for your help. Be the parent who’s there as a positive support through highs and lows, good seasons and bad seasons.
Your support may not guarantee that your child will have a mistake-free game, but it will help her play better knowing that her performance will not dictate how you talk to her after the game.
Pump-Up Habit #4: Be sure your child is learning to love the game.
Parents, this starts with you, and it extends to your child’s coach. If your child learns to love the game, then getting pumped up may be fun, but it will not be necessary because her love for the game will be an automatic pump!
If your child has a negative, short-sighted coach, one who does not love kids as much as he loves the game, one who reveres winning over character-development, then find one that will not taint your child’s love for the game, one who focuses on fun, skill development and character, one that sees the long-term value of the youth sports experience.
If you adopt these four pump-up habits, your child will be ready to perform in each game. He can keep fist bumping, keep chanting, keep doing his pre-game rituals, but they will be the icing on the cake, not the true foundation that will help him reach excellence.
Janis B. Meredith is a sportsparenting blogger, podcaster, and life coach. She provides re-sources to help parents give their children a positive and growing youth sports experience. Learn more about good sports parenting habits in her book 11 Habits for Happy & Positive Sports Parents, available on Amazon.