Home » Successful Sports Parenting Channel » Parenting Elite Athletes Is A Special Challenge

Parenting Elite Athletes Is A Special Challenge

Hard Questions Abound


Answers to the hard questions


These, then, are the hard questions for parents of elite athletes:

  • What drives athletes' and their parents' determination to excel at the national and international level?

  • Is the sacrifice - the financial equivalent of a middle-class income, the full-time job of grooming and transporting one's child to ruthless competition - worth the outcome?

  • What do we understand that outcome to actually be?

  • What effect, positive and negative, does allowing or persuading a young athlete to aspire to elite status have on the athlete, her parents, and her family?

The goal of the Parenting the Elite Athlete Center of the Successful Parenting Channel of MomsTeam in the coming months and years will be to address these and other questions as they pertain particularly to the often cut-throat world of the most competitive of the individual sports (tennis, skiing, golf, figure skating, equestrian, gymnastics). We will enter a world far removed from the courts, courses, rinks, and riding rings of Anytown USA. We will also look at team sports that carry international status.

Tried and true advice for all sports parents, whether heeded or not, applies equally to the parents of elite athletes: Don't overpressure. Do emphasize the positive. Do seek balance. Don't confuse your child's ambitions with your own. Do communicate with the coach. We need not repeat these admonitions here, though we may bear witness to the effects of parents paying lip service to such advice in the more competitive and high-stakes world of the elite athlete.

A Different Focus 

The focus, instead, will be on conveying information about parenting the elite athlete found nowhere else on the World Wide Web, and, just as importantly, starting a conversation with and creating a community, a forum where parents feel safe sharing their ideas and their concerns.

The Elite Youth Sports Parenting Center will, among other things,

  • Investigate the effects on parent-child dynamics of Division I college recruiting.

  • Provide information on the actual costs of parenting an elite athlete, and the actual percentage of household income that those costs represent.

  • Tell the stories of parents who have been there and done it, sharing their strategies and outcomes.

  • Engage in a dialogue with:

    • Elite coaches

    • College recruiting services

    • Sports academies

    • Representatives of the national governing bodies of various sports (USTA etc.)

    • The people who compile national and international rankings; and

    • Researchers studying the elite athlete.

We will also solicit readers' responses to the questions explored here. We want to know the challenges you are facing in the world of elite sports and the questions you need answered. We welcome stories of both success on the tour and despair in the face of the tour. Unlike community sports, competition at the national and international level can be a lonely place for parents as well as for young athletes. It is easy to sense that you are the only one gasping at the price tag, the only one unsure whether this is the best course to take with your child. Here, we hope, is a forum where you may find camaraderie.

The MomsTeam difference 

As the author of eight books and a work in progress on the phenomenon of elite youth sports, I am thrilled to be working with MomsTeam. Of all the sites crowding the Web, only MomsTeam gives the straight scoop on issues ranging from injury risks to family balance in youth sports. Only MomsTeam experts are unafraid to point out when the emperor has no clothes - that is, when the world of competition that means so much to us as a society may run roughshod over our children's deeper needs.

At the same time, the folks at MomsTeam want to celebrate the thrills and benefits of sports at every level, from T-ball to international skiing. As do I.

I welcome your comments, suggestions, and feedback.

Want to discuss this article or have question answered? Join us in the forums!    

Now Available in KINDLE