How to raise an elite athlete
Leo Messi earns approximately $111 million, Cristiano Ronaldo $108 million, and LeBron James $88.5 million a year. In addition to financial benefits, there’s also tremendous fame and recognition – something you cannot put a value on. These are attractive incentives, which is why an increasing number of parents want such a future for their children.
What steps should you take as a parent or coach to give your kids the best start in the world of sports? There is no perfect method for this, but this article should help you get the right attitude for the long-term mission that awaits you. You may not agree with some of the points, but they were created on the basis of many mistakes training specialists have noticed in their pupils’ parents over the years – we’ve gathered the most important of them.
#1 – Don’t push too hard
Many parents make this mistake. Your children should not make your dreams come true – you should let them pursue their own passions. Instead of forcing them to train a particular sport, cultivate the right values from an early age.
Show your child the beauty of emotions in sports rivalry. Spend time together watching sports and teams that you both like and teach to respect sports which are not necessarily your favorites. Make training a form of reward after a hard week at school, not another duty.
By supporting your child’s passions, instead of imposing them on him, you will help him stay committed, which is crucial in reaching the next levels of his junior career. The worst thing you can do is to completely discourage your child from sports by being stubborn and not paying attention to his needs. You will not raise an elite athlete and your relationship with your child
will be strained.
You also have to accept the fact that not every child has the potential to be raised as an elite athlete. He may not like sports or have the right physical conditions, for example, due to illnesses beyond your control. For his sake, you should support your child with good advice, regardless of the decisions he makes.
#2 – Instill good habits from an early age – and be the best example
Sports have become incredibly demanding. Today, talent alone is not enough to be among the best. This requires huge amounts of work and many sacrifices. To facilitate the whole process, instill good habits from an early age. As a parent, you are the greatest authority for your child. If you do not follow the advice you give yourself – your child probably won’t either.
Stop smoking and don’t drink alcohol. Introduce a wholesome diet in your home – healthy fats, lots of fruits and vegetables, adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates. If you have any doubts about what diet will be suitable for your child – ask your dietician. A good specialist will prepare a table of requirements for specific micro and macro components as well as nutrition plans you can introduce in your kitchen.
If you’ve ever trained any sport – try to get back to training. By spending time together on the pitch, you will also strengthen your relationship and it will also facilitate building authority.
#3 – Monitor and show progress to maintain motivation
Children are very easily discouraged. That is why it is so important to show the progress. Coaches and modern technologies can help you with this. Thanks to our athlete monitoring system – you can save the entire training history of your child and show him his progress in a visual form using a computer or a smartphone.
By measuring parameters such as maximum speed, heart rate, HID (High-Intensity Distance) and others, you can regularly show your child his progress in selected parameters which significantly affects his abilities on the field. If you are not familiar with these terms, do not worry – we have prepared a special compendium explaining the terminology and how to use it to
support your child’s training and prevent dangerous injuries. A link to the compendium can be found here.
If you do not want to use electronics, you can rely on standard solutions. Measure the time your child runs 100 meters once every half a year. For each position, regardless of your child’s sport, choose at least one key statistic and try to count it during each match, or ask the coach for it. If your child is playing football as a striker – record the number of appearances in the first team and the number of goals. If he’s a fullback in rugby – the number of accurate punts. Present them later in the form of a table updated regularly or using a simple graph. This will help show progress and motivate your future elite athlete to continue his effort.
#4 – Help your child notice his shortcomings and do not reject authorities
It is very easy to assume that since you have known your child all his life, you know best how he should train. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. As parents, we often do not look at our children objectively. That is why it is so important to get feedback from sports coaches and educators. Most of them really care about the development of young athletes, and in addition they have specialist knowledge, which many parents lack.
If the coach did not put your child in the starting lineup, it does not mean that he does not see his potential. For example, he might think that the young player is not ready yet or needs additional training. The road to becoming an elite athlete is long, it requires the right mentality and humility.
When the coach points out some of the child’s weaknesses, such as insufficient commitment, excessive egoism on the pitch or lack of conscientiousness in physical preparation, try to support his position. Even if a player aged 9 is able to dribble half the pitch, he must learn to play with his teammates. Otherwise, he will never achieve success in senior football. The situation is similar in the case of a serious approach to training.
There have been many gifted athletes who lost their way because of the wrong attitude and, consequently, a lack of progress. Also, try to control the ego of your future elite athlete. If you allow him to feel the best and the smartest, you will probably stop his progress completely. Appreciate his successes, but when needed – remind him of the areas that require improvement.
To help your child in becoming an elite athlete you will need patience, perseverance and a lot of empathy. However there’s No 1. rule you have to remember. Above all you are a parent, and your biggest duty is to raise an independent and happy kid – that’s not necessarily an elite athlete.