Every decision that you make as a swimming parent should be based on what’s best for your child and what helps them to develop a positive association with water and swimming throughout their life. Swimming is a life-skill and a great resource for health and fitness and can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
Studies have shown that children can actually achieve better results when they focus on enjoyment rather than winning as an obsession with winning can lead to the inability to deal with a perceived failure. Parents need to encourage and support their children, while coaches are there to provide feedback about the technical aspects of the swimming.
Building Self Esteem
As a parent, you are undoubtedly one of the main influences on your children’s self-esteem; they want to make you proud and impress you. Good self-esteem and positive body-image take lots of reinforcement to achieve and is most vulnerable to a parent’s opinion. Word choice, particularly after a race is very important. Example: “You won! You’re such a good boy!” could relate to the belief that they are only good if they win. As highlighted in our previous article, the best words any parent can say to a swimmer after a race is: “I love to watch you swim!” If swimmers know that winning can be associated with giving their best effort, they will be much happier swimmers and therefore get better results in the long run.
Coaching is for Coaches
It’s important to acknowledge that swimming coaches are professionals with a strategy for their swimmers, which includes short, medium and long term goals. While it’s great to have open communication with your child’s coach, it’s best to avoid offering your own advice, particularly with technique and what you think is best to prepare for the swimming season ahead. Coaches ensure that swimmers work on all aspects of preparation to get the best results, which means stamina phases of training, starts and turns, technique practice and taper sessions.
Realistic Goal Setting
In order to encourage realistic goal setting, it’s best to assist swimmers to focus on factors that they are able to control and affect. For example, if they set goals such as maintaining a solid kick throughout the race, giving their best effort right until the end and executing the correct stroke technique that they’ve been working on for hours in training, it teaches positive goal setting criteria. If they were to have the sole goal of winning or medalling, it would build a negative habit of instant gratification while missing the point and perspective of progress.
Keep the Sport Fun
Whether your child will go to the Olympics or whether they simply participate in club and school galas, the main goal should be to enjoy the experience. It’s always a great idea to record their personal best times so that they can try to improve that when they race rather than trying to simply beat other swimmers. This helps to keep swimming fun and helps to nurture the right concept of what success in life really is, which is to work on improving oneself and setting new goals rather than just trying to beat others all the time.
Encourage and promote a healthy swimming psychology with positive statements.
Offer your unconditional support.
Allow time for self-reflection after practice or a race.
Always remember that swimmers who enjoy the water do the best long-term!
Electric Eels Shop Launched!
We have launched our very own Electric Eels Shop with the help of one of our amazing Electric Eels parents, Tara Yates.
Now you can order tracksuits, t-shirts, caps, cooler boxes, beanies, hoodies, seat cushions, towels, water bottles and more with the click of a button! Visit www.electriceelsshop.co.za to place your first order- this can be delivered directly to you or to Wahoo Aquatic Centre for convenient collection.
See you on the pool deck!
Wahoo & Electric Eels Team.
Hearts of Hope @ Wahoo
Wahoo Aquatic Centre has been working with Hearts of Hope for 10 years, assisting with developing water safety skills every week throughout the year.
Each session offers these special children 30-minutes in the water, focusing on learning how to retrieve sinky toys, developing basic stroke fundamentals, entering and exiting the water safely, diving and having fun while learning.