Doherty High School: Parents Page

Championship Parenting of the Athletic Child
Basketball Art 1
Winning the Mind Game:
by D. Scott Ward, Ph.D.

A number of my friends have recently become mothers and fathers of potentially great athletes. I predict greatness from these just-out-of-the-womb superstars because of opportunity. Not because their parents are former athletes who themselves had great success in college and professional sports, but because every parent has the opportunity to help their child succeed. All kids, if interested in athletics, should get the best of parental support. Championship parenting of the athletic child takes a lot of effort, but it's all worth it when great athletes boast that their parents played a key roll in their success.

There is no question in my mind that parents of young athletes want the best for their children. The following is a TOP-FIVE list for Championship Parenting of the Athletic Child. If you coach young athletes, give it to your athletes' parents. If you are a parent, use the list for guidance. If you are a young athlete, this list will be helpful, talk about it with your parents.

1)    Make sure that your children know that - win or lose - you love them, appreciate the efforts and are never disappointed. This will allow them to do their best and avoid developing a fear of failure based on the dread of disapproval and family disappointment. Be the person in their life that can be looked upon for constant positive reinforcement.

2)    Try your best to be completely honest with yourself about your children's athletic capability, competitive attitude, sportsmanship and actual skill level. Good communication with your children will help you know if they want to be more competitive in a specific sport. Ask your children if they want to go to a summer camp, (basketball, football, tennis, etc.), don't force them.

3)    Be helpful but don't "coach" on the way to the track, diamond, field or court ... on the way back ... at breakfast ... and so on. Sure it's tough not to, but it's a lot tougher for children to be inundated with advice, pep talks and often critical instruction.

4)    Try not to re-live your athletic life through your children. There are enough pressures on your children as it is. Try not to add any because of your pride. Many very good young athletes stop participating in sports because of the unpleasantness of the home after a competition. Athletic children need their parents, so you must not withdraw. If your young athletes are comfortable with you - win or lose - they are on their way to maximal achievement and enjoyment - and you will get your kicks too!

5)    Don't compete with the coach. The young athlete often comes home and chatters on about "coach says this, coach says that." This is often hard to take, especially for the mother or father who has had some sports experience. When a certain degree of disenchantment about a coach sets in, some parents side with the youngster and are happy to see the coach shot down. This is a mistake. It should provide a chance to discuss (not lecture) with the youngster the importance of learning how to handle problems, react to criticism and understand the necessity for discipline, rules and regulations.

Parenting a young athlete is quite difficult and takes a lot of effort to be done well. The practices, competitions, traveling and expenses take time, energy and money. This alone should inspire parents to do the right thing with their young athletes. Give your child the opportunity to be successful. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be out there trying, working to improve skills and attitudes, taking the physical bumps and coming back for more. Don't say "winning doesn't matter" because it does. Instead, help develop the feel for competing, trying hard, and having fun.

If you have any questions or comments about this or any other sport psychology topic, you can e-mail Mind Games at

Line 3


The entire basketball staff is encouraged to keep the lines of communication open with our athletes and their families. It is our intent to supply you with all of the essential information that you will need to manage your commitment to athletics successfully. Many times parents have many questions and concerns that they feel the need to discuss with their student athlete's coaches. We make every effort to hire the best possible leaders for its athletic programs. Our coaches are professionals; they make judgment decisions based on what is best for the entire team taking into account every member of the team. This is not an easy task and sometimes people feel poorly about their role on a team. These men work extremely hard for little or sometimes no financial benefit, they do it because they love working with kids and realize the positive benefit of participation in interscholastic athletics. The following are some guidelines and policies to help facilitate the most productive and efficient communication with your students' coaches.

Parents are encouraged to discuss:
1. The treatment of their student
2. Ways to help their student improve
3. Concerns regarding their student's behavior
4. Coaches philosophy
5. Coaches expectations and role for their student and the team
6. Team rules and policies
7. Disciplinary action incurred by their child
8. The college recruiting process
9. Ways in which they can help the team (fundraising, pasta nights etc.)
10. Their student’s progress

Parents are not encouraged to discuss:
1. Placement on teams (C Team, Junior Varsity, Varsity etc.)
2. Playing time
3. Coaching strategies used during practice or contests
4. Other student athletes
5. Problems with other coaches/teachers

Communication with coaches is most productive when an appointment can be made to sit down and talk about the issue in private. Parents should never try to talk to a coach before or after a contest on a game day. This the most intense and emotional time for all parties involved and is not the time or the place for a meeting about specific issues with your student athlete. Please respect the coaches and the need for them to be focused on the task at hand. Give them a call after your child has gone to them with the issue and you feel there is no acceptable resolution. This is how it works in the real world and that is exactly what we are trying to prepare your student athlete for.

Communication Procedure:
If a problem should arise please make every effort to follow the following steps for a productive resolution.
1. Student athlete approaches the coach with problem or issue.
2. If a resolution cannot be reached the parent should contact the coach and arrange for a meeting.
3. In the rare instance that there is still no resolution the parent should contact the Athletic Director and arrange for a meeting with the student athlete, parents, coach and Athletic Director.
4. If after this meeting the problem continues to exist the Athletic Director will forward the issue to the Principal for advisement and a possible meeting with all parties involved