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Good Question: How Does Parenting Style Affect Athletic Performance?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – With school starting again, many parents will be sitting along the sidelines for their children’s games, meets or matches. Experts say how we act could affect how they do.

“I think it can affect it tremendously,” said Dr. Justin Anderson, a sports psychologist with Premier Sport Psychology. He works with high school and University of Minnesota students.

“Lots of times, the parents will come in and think that they’re doing a lot of things to support the athlete,” he said. “But we visit with the athletes and we realize that some of the blocks that they are currently facing are [due to] some of the pressures that the parents are putting on.”

Anderson has three suggestions for parents. First: focus on the efforts, not the outcome. Ask them if they followed their game plan or made the right read.

“Teach your kids playing is what it’s about, not winning,” said parent Jim Quinn of Minneapolis.

Second, it’s important to read your kids, Anderson says.

“If they’re highly motivated and highly confident, you can challenge them a little bit more,” he said. “If they’re feeling down or having a rough patch, you have to support them.”

The third thing parents should do is help kids understand what’s important outside of the game. He recommends encouraging good eating and sleeping habits as well as life lessons.

“We don’t ever really get trained on dealing with adversity, and dealing with adversity is one of the biggest things elite athletes do very well,” he said.

Southwest High School 10th grader Graham Smith had two pieces of advice for parents. He says it’s important to attend sporting events and support your kids, but don’t focus too much on winning.

“As parents, the best thing we can do is be supportive, stay out of it and stay out of their way,” said parent Joey Langfeldt.

Something parents should definitely avoid, Anderson says, is living through your child.

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