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14 October 2016

Athletics WA, Supporting My Athlete Workshop, WA Athletics Stadium

Story by Trent Mitton, WAIS/AIS Hockey Player, member of Kookaburras Australian Men's Hockey Team

It was an impressive turnout for the Athletics Western Australia parents workshop last Friday. A keen group of parents joined lead facilitator Amanda Schonfeld and myself to learn about what it takes to be the parent of a high level athlete.
I'll start by mentioning that this group of parents were already extremely knowledgeable about a
number of the areas that were discussed in the workshop. A credit to them for keeping up to date and supporting their children. Already having a good knowledge base made the session even more effective as we were able discuss topics more in depth.
First up we talked about the hard position that parents of athletes often find themselves in. Being that they are often the first person their child sees after a race or event, we stressed the importance of staying really supportive of their child regardless of result. Bad body language
or being verbally upset with their young athlete can create an unhealthy relationship, and in a lot of cases can be the main deterrent in a child continuing a sport.  
We also discussed the "in the car moments" and how these are the most common sources of
children being uncomfortable or upset with their parents.  These are best explained as those conversations you have with your son or daughter on the way home from a sporting event. This is the worst place and time to talk about your child's performance because they physically do not have a means of walking away if the conversation turns sour.  The only time this is okay is if they initiate the conversation, if you are sitting in silence the whole way home that is fine!  The reason behind this is so that there is enough time to cool off after the event for both the athletes and the parents, therefore having the conversation later on is a much better idea.
Our final topic was about drug education. This is a continually evolving theme as different substances can jump on and off the "banned list" every year as research and development progresses. We stressed the importance of checking everything that goes into a young athlete's body and even though the parents are in most cases the ones feeding their children, it
is the athletes that will still be at fault. We also briefly talked about supplements and that unless medically subscribed, children under the age of 18 do not need any additional supplements.

As I mentioned at the beginning, this group of parents were amazing! They already knew a lot of what it takes to help their child succeed. I believe the most important thing, which is sometimes the hardest thing to do is just...
It seems so simple, but because parents love their kids so much the line between coach and parent sometimes gets a bit blurry.  Being at their events to support them, celebrate with them and commiserate with them is all they need.

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