If your kids are aspiring NBA stars, you know what basketball means to them.
But what’s your role in supporting a youth player? How can you help them play to their full potential?
Whether you’ve played the game before or not, here are 6 secrets to being an awesome basketball parent.
1. Give constant support
As an aspiring athlete, the more seriously you take the sport, the sweeter your wins are. But at the same time, failures taste much more bitter.
Kids need parents who can provide that extra level of emotional support as they begin their basketball career. There’s so much already going on in the average kid’s life with school/homework, and playing competitive basketball can add an extra level of stress.
Your job is not only to congratulate your child when they achieve their goals (without inflating their ego too much!) but also to allow them to vent when things don’t go their way.
It’s crucial to attend as many games as possible, especially for kids under the age of 12. At this stage, children look to their parents for guidance, and seeing you in support will go a long way in helping their confidence.
2. Mentorship and advice
Your kid doesn’t have an agent – not yet at least!
Whether you’ve played basketball before or not, it’s still your job as a parent to provide advice where needed.
It’s not enough to just support the decisions they make. As a parent, you have the power to take a step back, and look at the bigger picture. You might be able to help your son or daughter make a better decision about which team to play on, which position to play, or what skills to focus on in the off-season.
Remember though, your kid needs to be able to control their own destiny. While you can provide advice, if you take complete control, it gets much easier for your child to become frustrated and demotivated, especially if they disagree with you.
3. Provide the opportunity to play – as much as possible
Even for parents whose kids don’t play basketball, it can feel like you’re a full-time taxi service a lot of the time.
If your kids take their basketball seriously, you’ll not only have to get them to games and practice, but also potentially to tryouts and training camps as well.
However, you also want to give your kids the opportunity to practice on their own, if at all possible.
If you don’t have a park with a decent half-court near you, it’s always possible to put a freestanding portable hoop in the yard or on the driveway. Simply pack it away when winter rolls around, unless you have the space and sunshine to keep it up all year round.
4. Don’t overdo it
No matter what sports your kids play, you don’t want to be the crazy soccer mom.
Never shout at anyone on the court, especially not the refs, and don’t coach your kids from the sidelines. Not only is doing this extremely embarrassing for your kid, it can also make them want to stop playing basketball.
Remember, your kids should have their own motivation to play the sports that they do. Otherwise, they won’t have any enthusiasm for the game.
This is why parents are often told to focus on their kids’ enjoyment of the sport, rather than winning, especially for younger players.
5. Maintain good relationships
Believe it or not, your child will have a much easier time on and off the court if you’re able to maintain good relationships with the key people in their team – especially the coach.
This isn’t just about coaches picking players whose parents are nice to them.
By keeping in constant contact, you can learn an incredible amount about where your kid might be able to improve their game. Often, some information isn’t shared with the player directly. You might find out for example what type of team the coach wants to build, and where he sees your kid fitting in.
Surprisingly, this applies to everyone – from parents whose kids are starting their first season, to college-level athletes.
Also, if you don’t have much of a basketballing background, but show that you care about the sport (and your child’s participation), you should be able to learn a lot from their coach about the game, and how the high school/college sports system works as your kid grows older.
6. Managing the balancing act
If your kids are really talented, and want to one day play in the NBA, the logical reaction to this as a parent might be “but what if it doesn’t work out?”.
This is a perfectly reasonable response, because the truth is that the majority of kids don’t make it to the big league.
However, you obviously can’t crush your kid’s hopes and dreams like that. Doing so will crush their confidence – not just in sport, but in their studies and other interests as well.
Your job is to maintain the balancing act. It’s by no means easy!
Just remember, basketball has a whole heap of other benefits apart from the possibility of going pro. It enables your child to develop their teamwork and communication skills, allows them to learn about the importance of hard work and dedication, and last but not least, gives them the chance to burn off all their excess energy.